I had drafted this article a while ago, however a passing comment from someone I know, regarding losing heart made me decide to complete and upload it. Maybe this is a good time to discuss feelings of ‘giving up’ (works well with my last post, Creative Constipation).
If your writing is streaking along happily right now, maybe the idea of giving up seems ludicrous. However I guarantee that at least once in every writer’s life, there will be a sense of “this is pointless, I can’t do it,” and the urge to pack it in will arise. For those of us unpublished, it can be a sinking feeling that the story will never be told!
Life is full of such sensations and as with most things you have choices. In fact 99% of the time there are choices, I’m not saying they are good choices but there are still choices.
So, you hit the wall, hate your work, hate your plot, hate the fact you can’t get around the hulking writer’s block that has been following you around for months like a bad smell. So you say “sod this!” and pull out of your world and back to reality.
That my friends, is a choice – you can choose to give up.
Or your other choice is to slog on.
Having suffered a few of these stressy-pants moments throughout my life, I can say with strength DO NOT GIVE UP. It does not matter if you truly believe you have no original ideas, if you dialogue sounds like it fell out of a hammy sitcom, or that your plot has more holes than a Polo factory. This is a passing sensation, usually brought on by external factors well away from your writing. (unless it’s brought on by writers block, in which case, see Creative Constipation article)
I have felt this way many a time. It was my partner who pointed out a glaring thought that I hadn’t noticed. My novels are large fantasies, they are all designed to be trilogies (or more), in fact from very early on I realised my stories were too big to be single tales. Each novel is multi-layered, and some are set in very detailed worlds I created.
However it was my partner who had to point out the enormity of creating a world. Of course it was stressful, frustrating, tiring… Add to this all the other crap that you have in your life, job, school, homework, chores, time with family, dentist appointments, car services etc etc ad infinity.
Now before I go on, you may be sat there saying “but I don’t write large fantasies”. The premise still applies, you are still creating characters, ideas, plots, dialogue. Think about it, when you step into your world, you are living the lives of dozens of different people.
You need to know them all, the way they talk, action, think, response, live, eat as well as the layout of the land. Even if you are basing it in modern day, there is still a lot to remember, a lot to plan.
Then we take the drama. Almost all stories will have drama, characters fighting, arguing, separating, cheating, falling in love, dying, moving away… living with these in the real world can be overwhelming, but doing it in your own world, tiring.
Now – remember when I said other things in your life will have created the sense of “giving up”? Well I meant it. The reason I know this is because as writers we have obviously written, we have created something perfectly fine before. So we balanced our writing and our reality.
Suddenly, your writing is suffering. This is because the balance has shifted, and the writing has suffered because of it.
So look at what is outside of your writing life. Have you got too many demands on your time? Are there stresses? Money worries? Illness? Family problems? Take some time away from your writing (don’t do anything rash like deleting your work or throwing out your papers). Just step back. Give reality some more of your attention.
As writers we often bury ourselves in our worlds. They are our sanctuaries and we retreat there especially when things get crappy outside of them. Yet sometimes you can only hide there for so long before whatever is bothering you in the real world creeps into your written world and gets its filthy goop all over.
There are some things I’ve done to help combat bad feels:
* Keep some of your best (OMG I write awesome) scenes printed and nearby. Read them to remind yourself you have good writing days
* Find a quote or a picture that picks up your mood or your thoughts, and put it somewhere you can see it
* Before you feel this way, talk to someone close to you, tell them that if you ever talk about giving up writing they have to kick your ass! (then if you get that feeling, go talk to that person)
* Put a post-It on your monitor frame that says “DONT GIVE UP” or something equally profound to keep you from doing something stupid.
* Do not have the shredder next to your desk! (Seriously! I had a few close calls when I had serious depressive writing tantrums. Good thing it was jammed when I reached for it)
* Talk to other writers, a problem shared, is a problem halved and we’ve been there so it’s nice to have someone to talk to who gets it.
* Step away – your written world will still be there when you get back. Take some time in reality to find a little balance.
Remember, you chose to be a writer because you love writing. That doesn’t mean you are not going to have bad days. We all have bad days and we sometimes take it out on the people (and things) we love. So your writing might take a beating because of it. Just ride the tide, it will pass.
Good writing everyone
NOTE: Photo was purchased from Depositphotos.com