Last week I blogged about JK Rowling’s rejection letters and her (and the rejecting publisher’s) encouragement to never give up. My post fell into the timeline of a writing facebook friend who was currently in a ‘giving up’ mood. It was interesting reading the comments and support from her other friends. One mentioned how she too felt like giving up, but hadn’t and had just won a national writing competition. Another explained how only we are capable of telling our stories, and giving up would mean those stories would not be told. And there was also advice to take a day off, too.
All of these are valid points and useful. I like to think of these thoughts of 'giving up’ as showing we care about our work, and that we want to offer the best we can … but it’s the lack of confidence that questions whether we’re capable of producing the quality we strive for: that our writing isn’t as good as someone else’s. That’s when we think about giving up.
We’re always questioning ourselves: it’s why we’re writers. My confidence always takes a knock when I’m working on a big project and it’s just not flowing. There are times when I get stuck and can’t see a way forward. Without that clear path ahead it makes the journey seem impossible. So why push on, especially when we could take a wrong turn?
At times like this I dig out something I wrote several months ago. I’ll look at an article, or a short story, anything that I completed. It needn’t be something that’s been published. Just some writing that I finished. And that can help put things into perspective.
We tend to forget about what we’ve finished: what we’ve achieved. When negative feelings envelope us, encouraging those thoughts of giving up, they often have us concentrating on the problems with our current writing project. They cloud our judgement, obscuring all of our previous work. Sometimes I pick up something I wrote several months ago, read it and think, “Blimey! That’s good. Did I really write that?” And other times I’ll read something and think,”That’s awful. That doesn’t work because of X, Y and Z.” But I take comfort from the latter because it means I can see what the problems are now with that piece. I understand that as a writer I have grown since I first wrote that piece. Therefore, I am improving. I am still growing as a writer. That helps me to carry on.
So don’t panic if you feel like giving up. It shows you care about your writing. But don’t make any rash decisions. As someone else suggested, take a day off. Go and do something completely different. It’ll put things into perspective. If you really want to do this current project, you will find a way. It may not be the way you originally intended, but you’ll work something out. Feeling like giving up now will only enhance that sense of achievement when you do accomplish your writing dream.
Perhaps that’s what we need to remind ourselves: what are our writing dreams? If it really is a life’s dream of ours, then we never should give up.