Have you ever said “I Quit?”
There are only a few things we can quit and be considered a winner- smoking, drinking, and gambling come to mind. And gambling isn’t so bad until you bet the house and lose it. Right? But when it comes to writing, so many authors get discouraged or overwhelmed by the process, throw their hands up and say “I quit!”
Saying I quit has power.
We shouldn’t take that option off the table.
I sometimes feel like my stories own me, as if I will lose my mind if I don’t write them down. Allowing myself the power to quit allows me to take back control. Even if I choose not to quit. Especially when I choose not to quit. I’ve chosen to let that story own me for a while which is a hugely different mindset than the story choosing to own me.
Welcome to the Manic Writer
I’m Ann Shannon. This is my first month participating in the #ISWG Blog hop and I’m so excited to be here. I hope you find what I have to share helpful. I’d love it if you left me a comment telling me how you’ve applied my thoughts to your own work. I write romance, erotic romance and I focus my blog efforts on the Indie author because I love them! Won’t you drop your email in that subscribe box to the right and join me in my mania?
Let’s break down the ownership of a story
We all know that being a writer is easy right? We lounge around in our pajama’s all day, drink coffee (or wine), type a few words into the computer and send it off to our loving agent who can’t wait for the next file of gems we produce to make them, and us, gobs of money.
Story writing usually comes in steps; inspiration, preparation, creation and revision. Each of those steps has the potential to take over us and make us feel like we are slaves to it. They have the potential to make us want to quit. Our secret lies in owning them.
When I get the idea for a new story I am the proverbial kid in a candy store.
I can’t wait to sit down and put pen to paper. (I actually rarely hand-write anything due to arthritis in my hands, but
you know what I mean.)
I write scifi romances and currently have a series stored in my head. I want to build the world, and create the characters. Unfortunately, this series will require a lot of research and that will distract me from my current projects. So I’ve told myself WAIT. I have written down a few things. I’ve talked about it with my husband, who doubles as my creative counselor/consultant. And I’ve talked at length about it with 2 friends who are familiar with the premise in it.
I’m not usually owned by the story at this stage. Sometimes it rears its head demanding attention like the toddler that it is but I’m able to quiet it. “I have to finish something or you won’t get finished either,” I tell it. It listens and settles down to whimper in the corner.
Preparation, for me, is an all consuming process. I research, study, name, and plan.
This is the time I spend daydreaming, outlining, plotting and creating or fleshing out characters. During this time the story owns me, but I’m usually able to walk away from it at the end of the day. This can be exhausting and I need to come up for air. I know I’ll be back tomorrow.
Occasionally I’ll finish a day and wonder what I did. My head will be swimming with ideas and thoughts that I have trouble organizing. When this happens I try to take time to write them down. I have a notebook for each story I write. My handwriting is nearly illegible, even to me, but I take notes and make lists. I also use my project management sheets and other organizational tools I’ve created to help me feel like I have a handle on it. Sometimes I allow myself to quit during this stage. It’s more like a vacation but it helps me to focus on something else for a few days and let the soup in my mind settle.
This is the beginning of danger period. I’m in full sprint mode now. I know where I’m going and I want to be there,
now. The trade-off is that during this period I rarely end the day and wonder what I did. My work is quantifiable. I wrote words today. However, if I reach a point where I’m not sure the story is going in the right direction I can get bogged down. During these times that I have to be sure I own the story and not the other way around. I need to allow myself a day off (or more) so I can step back, reread and be sure I’m heading down the right path.
It’s ok to take time off during this or any period. I have a series of 3 novellas. I’ve written and published most of them on the web. I owe book 3 six chapters. 6! And I need to have them done soon because the time is coming for them to be posted. I quit because I needed to own the story. But I’ll be going back soon to finish it.
This is my high-danger period. If you live near a forest you probably see signs telling you the risk of forest fire.
It’s during this time that I’m so tempted to throw up my hands and say “I quit!” It’s during this time that I feel a responsibility to the story to finish it and make it the best story I can. It’s during this time that the story starts to own me. I’ve created this living breathing document, full of characters I love who want their story to be told. It’s during this time that I must be ever vigilant to remember than quitting is my choice.
I’m free to quit if I need to.
- Maybe the story doesn’t work.
- Maybe you just need a break from it.
- Maybe it will never work.
Whatever it is, you are the only one who can decide if you need to revisit an earlier step, take a vacation, set it on the back burner, or simply quit. Don’t let your fear of the ‘Q’ word get you down. You own it and not the other way around.
In the End
Writing takes discipline, attention to detail and creativity. All of which are exhausting. There are many days when I want to say “I quit,” but I don’t because I know that, though I am free to use those two little words, they won’t help me realize my dream.
Everyday I choose not to say “I quit.”
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Thank you so much for visiting the Manic Writer. I can’t wait to hear how you deal with the ‘Q’ word when it rears it’s head at you. Drop me a comment and let me know.
Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter on the sidebar so you won’t miss a moment of the mania! You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter where I’m an active member of the #5amwritersclub Monday through Friday. You can get a peek at my To Be Read list over at Goodreads if you’re interested or drop me a note and offer a suggestion.
I’m also publishing a novella on the web, for free! It’s called Divorced White Female and you can find out all about it by clicking the link. You know you want to.