Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Give You Permission to Quit

When you’ve been writing and seeking publication for as long as I have, you meet a lot of other writers along your journey.  Some of them will be more successful than you. Some will be less successful than you. Some will stick it with it doggedly until their dying breath. And some will quit.

Some that quit will have been pretty successful by other writers’ standards. Some will quit because they had a romanticized notion of what being a writer is all about. (Don’t we all?) Some will quit because they don’t achieve what they set out to do. And some will quit because they realize that their energies are better spent elsewhere.

All of those are valid reasons to quit.

Not that anyone needs me to tell them that…or maybe they do.

We live in a culture where quitting (unless it’s smoking or drugs or alcohol) is frowned upon. We’ve always got to “win!” (whatever the hell that means).

So I’m telling you now: It’s okay to quit WHATEVER your reason may be.

(And it’s okay to quit just about ANYTHING, not just writing: a hobby you’ve outgrown, a relationship, a job…anything.)

Also keep in mind that most quitting isn’t necessarily permanent. You may return to it down the road when your life circumstances have changed.

On the flip side, I find it impossible to tell someone they could think about quitting even though I’m absolutely positive they’re never going to find the success they’re after.

Again, not just writers… everybody to dieters, to people in abusive relationships, to Girl Scout Leaders. (But hey, if you’re a Girl Scout Leader who’s considering quitting, could you wait until after you’ve scored some Thin Mints for me?)

I happen to call a number of quitters my friend and here’s the secret side of quitting that no one ever talks about:

When you quit pouring your energy into what isn’t right for you, you free up the energy to figure out what IS right for you.

Here’s an example:  When I first met my friend L. twenty years ago, she thought she wanted to be a writer. After a couple of years she quit writing and is now an AMAZING photographer.

When she quit, she won.

Tell me Killer Friends: What do you think of quitting? Do you know anyone who’s won by quitting?


B.E. Sanderson said...

I think I fit into the 'doggedly with their dying breath' category. Not that I haven't thought of quitting, but it never sticks. Instead, I try to quit the certain aspects of it that aren't working. But quit writing? Nope.

Yay for your friend! Sometimes you have to quit what isn't working to win at other things. And amen to the quitting of abusive relationships. Been there, done that. If I hadn't quit those, I wouldn't have won by finding Hubs. =o)

Silver James said...

I haven't quit stuff so much as put it aside and moved on to something else. The one thing I haven't been able to stop is writing. Even in the years when I was doing something else--LOTS of something elses, in the back of my mind, I knew I'd have to come back to the stories. I have one I've been writing for almost 20 years. It may never see the end. It more than likely will never see publication. But yeah, if something doesn't work, stop. Find what does work. Find what makes you happy. Life's too short for anything else.

jblynn said...

B.E. -- :-)

Silver -- I think putting things aside is a good mentality…sometimes the time to be doing something just isn't right.

Clarice Wynter said...

Great post! I know a lot of people who have stuck to things that made them miserable because they didn't want to just 'give up'. Great advice!

Aisyah Putri Setiawan said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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