Friday, April 20, 2012

Q is for Quitting

Writing is not something I've ever wanted to quit.  Even on my hair-pullingest days.  Even when my patience is worn as thin as a single coat of paint.  I always figure, this is something I'm likely to do even if I never see a dime for it, so I might as well try to get a few dimes from it.  Maybe if I leave my dimes in a dark room with some Barry White playing, I'll have more dimes in the future!  (That's how it works, right?)

And believe me, I'm no stranger to quitting.

Quite frankly, I am a bit of a spoiled softie.  If I don't want to do something, I'm likely not to do it.  Or stop doing it.  This is not to say I have no follow-through.  Things that have to be done get done.  But optional things that are also unpleasant?  Um, yeah, I have about 2 million things I can think of to do instead.

HOWEVER, I know there are writers out there who just aren't up for the publication part of the process.  And that is OKAY.  That is completely okay.  If you want to write a million stories and use the print-outs to line your bird cage that is totally your prerogative (for the record, prerogative is one of those words I have NEVER learned to spell--thank you Spell Check.)

If there comes a point in your writing life where you are miserably unhappy and you can't stand another minute of the querying/editing/copyediting/promotion process, there is power in quitting.  Now, for legal reasons, I strongly recommend you meet the remaining terms of any contracts you might have in the world, but after that, feel free to walk away.

Even more powerful than the actual walking away, however, is giving yourself the permission to do it.  A writer I know, who shall remain nameless, has to, from time-to-time, decide she doesn't want to do this anymore and give herself permission to stop.  And it can't just be in her head.  She has to say the words out loud, or write them in an email.

The thing is, every time she writes the words or says them--the pressure goes away.  And almost without fail, the next day, she feels renewed energy to write.  New ideas, enthusiasm, brainstorms, and energy for blog posts, promotion, and the like.  She just has to know that she's not trapped.

And she's not.  Trapped, I mean.  And neither are you.  If you want to write, write.  But if you don't want to, that's okay to.  Writing is okay at any level of the game.  In fact, I wish more people would write just for the sake of it.  Believe me, there are plenty of words I've assembled into various formats that will never see the light of day--*cough, cough* Crappy Poety! *cough, cough*--and that's okay with me.

I've lost some control of this post, I can see that now.  But my point is:  Writing shouldn't make you miserable.  There are times that it will, of course, but if there aren't times in between that make you ecstatic--there are easier ways to make a living.

As for me, I can't seem to stop the words from climbing out of my brain and running out my fingertips so I'll do my best to wrangle them (it's worse than cat wrangling at times), and I'll keep on trying.

Unless it makes me miserable.

Then all bets are off.


Catherine Stine said...

I agree.
And after I finish A to Z, I'm going to get back to my writing-a sequel to my last YA thriller. Stop on by if you like! (Catherine Stine's Idea City)

Liz Czukas said...

Good for you Catherine! I love YA and thrillers are always good for a few goosebumps. Good luck to you!

- Liz

Heather Whitley said...

I didn't get a chance to respond when I read this, which in retrospect was good, because now I can say this post made my week. Made me think, and really set me free. I already know this, but feeling it was a whole other matter. Thank you for the reminder. I was finally ready to internalize it.