Monday, September 5, 2016

Positivity for Writers #4: I Almost Gave Up... And Why I Didn't!

My last post was in March.


That's insane. That's insane because so much has happened since then!

So why?

Because for the last six months, I've been in the process of giving up. Quitting. Throwing in the towel. Saying F this! You may have wanted this when you were a little girl, but you were young and foolish then...

Writing is hard. Publishing is hard. Interpersonal relationships are hard. It's all hard.

If you've ever put fingers to keyboard, submitted a manuscript, collaborated, or been part of a community you know this particular struggle.

I quietly closed down my Facebook. I put away all my Raine trappings. I decided I would... or wouldn't... or maybe...

And it sucked my friends. It sucked ALL the butts. More than that, it hurt my spirit.

Because a life without writing is a million times harder than the other day-to-day noise... And that's what it is, it's just noise. And doubt.

I wish I could show you clearly how I got from Point A (Let's quit this shizz!) to Point B (OK, I'll just put it away for now) to Point C (You know what? I'm strong enough to handle this.) Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I stumbled like a drunk person along the path. Here are some of the things that I totally donked up before kinda, sorta, getting it right.

  • Acknowledge how you feel. I fought against the feeling of discontent without acknowledging it for so long that my psyche eventually went snap, crackle, pop! and I was forced to acknowledge for I felt. Believe me, if you can do it quietly and on your own terms, it's much better.
  • Let yourself sit in it. Man, I fought it. Once my psyche broke and I realized how I felt... I was like, "MUST! DO! SOMETHING! ABOUT! THIS!" and that 'something' was to burn my writing house down. It took four incredible friends practically sitting on me to get me to stop flailing and just be.
  • Weigh your options. But...but...this is the path I'm on. I have no other options! Not so. Going a different direction can be scary. And it definitely won't be easy. A new writing style? A new name? A new publishing house? Getting an agent? Or maybe becoming an indie publisher? Even stepping away from the publishing game? I didn't like all the options I came up with, but at least I finally realized I have some.
  • Ask yourself the hard questions. Is it worth the shitty feelings? You'll probably start with that one. And if you feel half as miserable as I did, you'll say, nope. But you have to ask yourself this question as well: Will I regret quitting? And Can I be happy taking a break instead?
  • Listen to the universe. Seriously. Don't ignore the kind words of your readers, your betas, your peers. Don't ignore the quiet opportunities that come your way, or the signs that point you toward your own contentment.
  • Cut out the poison. Ohmygawd I have a habit of doing everything wrong when I feel bad! I eat too much, I'm too sedentary, I spend like a millionaire even though I only take home a librarian's salary. I seek affirmation from the wrong people and pack away projects that would make me feel good. So... I consciously stopped. I don't read reviews anymore, I don't read my the Facebook newsfeed. I try to be a good friend to people who are also good friends to me. And I chopped the shizz out of those credit cards. But it took over a year to get here.
  • Be creative. Even if you don't feel like you can write, create. Draw, dance, sing, play, garden, sew, design, dream. This is one thing I did right. In the time I was figuring my shit out, I started drawing again. I started customizing dolls. I started doing decoupage. I made my own stamps and played around with calligraphy. I tackled color. Copics, prismas, and new lining techniques. I didn't let that creative energy stop.
  • Try again. If you're going to quit forever, surely one more go at the keyboard isn't that much to ask? And if you can't manage that, at least read something you've written. For old time's sake? That way, you can say you gave it your all. 

Writing is challenging. Same with publishing and collaborating and interpersonal relationships. They are all challenges.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by those challenges, give yourself a moment to breathe. Allow yourself to see your options. Change directions if you need to. But don't quit.

I promise you, there's someone--probably many someones--in this great wide world who will be worse off for not having read your words.

But more than that, you will be worse off for not having written them.

With Kindness,