Thursday, May 6, 2010

When To Quit

So I read a lot of blogs. Who doesn't?

I internalize them, especially if they make me experience an emotional reaction.

Enter Natalie Whipple. You may or may not have seen her around. I kinda like her. She's smart. Funny. Photogenic.

We party sometimes.

But this post made me go all emo.

Trust me, I've thought about quitting. Many times. Yesterday even. Generally, in life, I'm a quitter. I quit exercising about two years ago. I quit brushing my teeth for years while I was in high school. I quit playing soccer when I didn't make the high school team. I've quit several jobs in my past.

Yeah, I'm a quitter.

So here's the next thing I'm going to quit: comparing myself, my writing, my goals and my life to someone else's.

And then: I'm going to quit beating myself up because my writing isn't perfect.

Finally, I'm going to quit wishing for something, and work for it instead.

Who's with me?

What do you need to quit doing? Why is quitting sometimes so easy (exercising) and sometimes so dang hard (biting my fingernails)? Riddle me that, quitters!

88 comments:

Cheree said...

I need to quit procrastinating... oh and a good one is to quit quitting.

I think sometimes it's easy to quit when it feels so damn hard to do that thing (or sometimes painful)... but why would you quit biting your nails? They're right there, no stress at all to do... so why bother quitting?

Wen Prior said...

I really needed this post today, thank you Elana :) I think my favorite thing you said was "Finally, I'm going to quit wishing for something, and work for it instead."

I've just started rewriting my entire novel. Quitting seemed like a good option, until now. Thank you :)

magolla said...

Sorry, I'm not really a quitter--except the exercising part. I usually keep trying to make something work long past the time I should have spent on it.

I tried writing romance for years after I knew it was time to changed genres-- wanted to figure it out and make it work

I did want to quit briefly yesterday when my kid brought home a book and said I needed to read it because it was soo funny (Falling In). I asked if it was as funny as my stories (she'd read one of my blog stories), her comment, "Your stories aren't funny."

Great. . .I failed with my target audience. Oh, well.

Jonathon Arntson said...

I need to quit quitting. Whenever anything gets hard, I quit. My book won't write itself!

Mary Campbell said...

I'm a lifelong quitter too Elana. I'm trying to work past that. Finishing my novel will be a major accomplishment for me - sure hope I don't quit. You're awesome Elana - I definitely don't see you as a quitter. You inspire me to keep going all the time by your example. Don't quit blogging - we need you. But the not brushing your teeth thing - I'm really glad you quit doing that.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

oh, this is hard.I'm not a quitter. I really really hate to stop something I've started,even if I know I should. I had to quit babysitting for someone a few weeks ago b/c it was just wearing me out. I only quit substitute teaching because we're moving to another county. I am trying to quit more often!

Jess of All Trades said...

Whether or not you believe in the principles of 'The Secret' (law of attraction, etc), one image that stuck with me is this:

You have your vision, your passionate, important vision for your future, the life of your project, etc. You're working away. All the ducks are in a row.
But it's not happening. It's not happening. It's not happening as fast, as well or as smoothly as you like. So you think it isn't meant to be, and you quit.

The image that saves me is that of a little plant sprout pushing up through the soil. Everything is still rolling, pushing and Happening, but until that sprout breaks through the ground, it's almost impossible for us to keep faith, and as soon as we quit, all our energy and passion and the forces working with us say 'okay' and shrivel back into the ground.

So when I feel like giving up, I hold that image. It just needs to break surface!

In shorter comment: I need to quit just-planning and not Doing.

Nisa said...

I need to quit worrying. Maybe then I wouldn't get stuck so much and I'm so stuck right now!

Awesome post, Elana! And Natalie is so great, isn't she? I love her blog!

Candyland said...

I'M WITH YOU!

Comparing doesn't help. It just makes us feel bad about our own junk.

YOU ARE AMAZING.

(If you don't know that by now, I could karate chop whoever makes you feel different)

Matthew Rush said...

In Basketball you will miss 100% percent of the shots you never take.

You rock Elana (and so does Natalie)!

Lisa said...

YES! I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to quit comparing my writing life to others. So what if I don't have an agent yet? So what if I may never get that huge book deal?

I have MY OWN JOURNEY to follow.

I've quit writing a ton of times. But I never really quit. Because, for some reason, I can't! I don't want to! I enjoy it!

Great post!

MeganRebekah said...

Oh my. What writer hasn't seriously considered quitting at some point? I have. I do all the time. As recently as last weekend. It's HARD work. Time consuming work. Work that's not guaranteed to pay off, in any way shape or form. Work that will definitely continue to get harder (and more time consuming) as we press on.

I think one of the biggest reasons I haven't quit is my writing group. I love them. And they inspire me to keep going even when I want to let go and move on.

Livia said...

I read on another blog once. Quit only when you want something else more. Until then, keep trying.

Theresa Milstein said...

I need to quit beating up on myself and feeling like I'm not worthy. But doesn't everyone do that? Can we really quit? Being aware and fighting against the negative thoughts is the best we can do.

You've got an agent and two successful blogs. You're going places. So, quit comparing yourself to others the best you can.

Or compare yourself to where I am. That should help!

Mary McDonald said...

I've gotten better at not comparing my writing to other's because I finally realized that we all have our own styles. People have said they like my style, so I'm keeping it, even if other people are way more eloquent.

I whine about the whole finding an agent thing, and quitting that, but I'm pushing on. If not with this book, then with the next.

Anyway, I'm off to the gym. ;-)

Ryan said...

I need to quit beating myself up about life in general. In a big way. It's starting to get depressing. I should also quit smoking. But, then again quitting is for quitters so who knows :)

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Right on! We have to write what's in our hearts - otherwise it just seems pointless to me. Never a quitter. Never was one - never will be. Well, no, that's a lie. 'Cause I quit quitting before I'd even started ;)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I used to think I was a quitter, but stopping isn't always quitting. I learned that I loved to try new things, so I would take a class on something, finish the term, and then be done. Or I'd start doing something, finish the project, and move on to the next thing. As far as quitting goes, there are some things I need to quit, such as procrastinating or lazing around, and there've been a few things I have quit and regretted. But writing's not one of them, because writing isn't a 'fling.' It's my world. :)

Scott said...

I need to quit going to Starbucks so often. Seriously. My shorts aren't fitting quite as loosely as before.

This is an excellent post. You are you. I am I (or me). Natalie is Natalie. We all might be going for the same goal, but we're doing it in our own way: the way that works best for us! Nobody, not nobody, in this life has the exact same path. We're individuals and we do things individually.

So, like you, I'm going to quit comparing myself to others. Oh, yeah, I see the irony in that statement! Ha!

MissV said...

Oh, Elana, I am soooo with you!

I have the hardest time telling the difference between my quitting because something gets tricky or difficult and my disengaging because I really dislike what I'm doing.

I have a tendency to back down when challenged. Except when it's something (a) someone says I can't do or (b) something that must get done no matter what or maybe (c) when I'm competing against my husband. Once engaged, I am relentless--freakishly so. I just need to channel that drive towards my goals and not kicking his butt at Farkle.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

I totally need to suck it up and quit being such a procrastinator.

Quitter! Where? That's not me hiding behind an over sized mug of coffee.

Yvonne Osborne said...

I'm going to quit procrastinating and send out more query letters. I'm going to quit worrying about tomorrow and enjoy every minute of today! And, Elana, I'd say you're anything but a quitter.

Christina Lee said...

Yeah, I'm with you. I need to get off my sorry ass behind and quit feeling sorry and guilty and... and... everything else!

Kristi Helvig said...

Hang in there Elana! I wrote about this earlier this week, but it took me 8 years to get my Ph.D. by the time I finished my dissertation -- never once did I even contemplate quitting BUT writing my first novel was harder for me than getting my degree. Seriously, it's the hardest thing I've ever done.

Every time I feel like banging my head against the wall, I read a wonderful post like this one and it helps me keep moving. Thanks for your inspiring words! :)

Jamie Grey said...

I am totally a quitter! I just started a new job as a matter of fact. And I've quit working on my WIP to start something new. SO I really needed to read this. I am going to quit quitting! Even though I know it's going to be tough. I'm also guilty of comparing myself and my writing to others. I need to stop that too. Thanks for posting this. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one with this problem!

Falen said...

i don't condsider myself a quitter so much as someone who is prone to flee.
In a fight or flight situation (pretty much anything that makes me uncomfortable or forces to change) i will choose flight 99.9% of the time

Jaydee Morgan said...

Great post. I'm not so much as a quitter but I love your line to quit wishing for something and work for it instead. I'm a big believer in that!

Christine Fonseca said...

I can honestly say I am not a quitter - I am pretty persistent. But I do get down...very down at times. Thankfully, I have amazing writerly freinds who hep pick me back up

salarsenッ said...

I'll do my best, too, Elana to put down my boxing gloves and stop beating myself up because my writing isn't perfect.

It's hard but, yes, doable. It seems we're both standing under the same moon today, even though others may not see it. I began my blog post today intending on talking about the hockey games I watched last night but ended up getting all sappy and thanking the amazing people who've decided to start following me. ME. Still a shocker.

Thank you for sharing.
Sher~

salarsenッ said...

I'll do my best, too, Elana to put down my boxing gloves and stop beating myself up because my writing isn't perfect.

It's hard but, yes, doable. It seems we're both standing under the same moon today, even though others may not see it. I began my blog post today intending on talking about the hockey games I watched last night but ended up getting all sappy and thanking the amazing people who've decided to start following me. ME. Still a shocker.

Thank you for sharing.
Sher~

Crystal Cook said...

Freakin' freaker (yep I read your comment on WIBIJ, he, he) that's
a good question. And I love it.

I need to quit hating myself, and using the words 'I can't.'

Melissa Sarno said...

Yes, I agree with you, stop wishing and work for it :-) Quitting is for cowards! Unless you're quitting quitting. Which is very courageous.

Amanda J. said...

Yes. I need to stop comparing my life and writing to others, but sometimes it's good for me. It gives me inspiration and motivation to do better, of course, sometimes it makes me wonder what in the heck I'm doing, but still. You have to take the good with the bad. Great post, Elana! Thanks for this, I needed to hear it (again). :)

Stephanie McGee said...

It's because we get stuck in routines, in what's normal and comfortable. So anything that makes us uncomfortable is easy to quit, while the things that feel a part of us or part of that security blanket are impossible to quit.

Amy Jo Lavin said...

I'm going to quit feeling guilty if I can't write every day. I've tried, but as a single mom and a full time teacher, some nights I just want to crawl into bed at 8:00 and not even think about my novel. I do my best writing on the weekends, when I can relax a little bit.

Christine Danek said...

I'm with you. I have pushed myself too hard to quit now. I must finish this novel and push on. If it becomes nothing then I will write another.
Thanks for the encouragement. :)

KarenG said...

LOL, I'm a quitter too! Nice to meet all you other quitters out there :) But if I hadn't quit my Costco job I'd still be there hating myself and not writing and not doing all the other exciting things going on in my life right now. Sometimes quitting is essential or you can't move on. I'm a fan of quitting.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm with you! I need to quit worrying about all that needs to be done before my book comes out and just do it.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I've put far too much blood, sweat, and tears into my novel to quit now. Quitting would just be so, so wrong!

That said, I sometimes feel the urge to throw in the towel and get off this emotional roller coaster. But I'm seatbelted in pretty tight.

PJ Hoover said...

Quitting can be so hard because in many cases there is no going back (like nursing your baby. You quit that, you can't just start pumping out milk again if you change your mind).

Things get so much harder once we realize how much we have to learn. I went through this with bowling and it stopped being fun completely. At least with writing there are so many ups and downs that something good is always on the horizon.

Sara B. Larson said...

Another fabulous post, and so accurate. It is easy to quit the things that will make us better in the long run, usually, don't you think? And yet the things that only bring us down are the ones that are so hard to quit. Hmmm... I think I see a life lesson in there somewhere.

For example, I need to quit living in the future or the past. (I can't wait/I should have....) I need to learn to live in the moment, to enjoy and embrace it for all that it's worth. That would be a really good one. (and ties in with writing, because a lot of my future/past living is in regards to writing and comparing myself to others in the industry)

Jen Chandler said...

Marvelous post, Elana.

Yes, sometimes it DOES pay to be a quitter.

I'm in the same boat, needing to quit the comparisons, the worrying about what others think of me, my life, my choices.

I'm ready to quit. Let's go!

Happy Thursday,
Jen

Patti said...

I need to quit second guessing myself and be more confident.

I don't think I could quit writing because I would miss it too much.

Jojomama said...

I quit eating sugar six years ago and have never looked back.
I have not quit quitting sugar.
Life is gooood.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Okay, me too.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I think my brain quit - got a solution for that?

Corinne O'Flynn said...

Thanks for this Elana...

Michelle H. said...

I need to quit feeling like a knife stabbed me in the heart when I hear someone else got a publishing deal and I'm still searching for an agent for my work. I'm always happy for that author, truly, but it makes me wonder what I'm still doing wrong with my efforts.

JEM said...

Well said! I need to quit comparing myself to others; that way lies madness. Instead, whenever I take on a task, I just focus on being the best that I can be.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

What would I do without this writing community, that speaks its truth and mirrors my own, validating me in my most challenged moments. I'm with you, Elana (and Natalie). No more comparisons, no more fear of failure, no more anxiety. Love of the craft, writing what's in my soul at that moment, is what I'm going to concentrate on.

Peace, writers.

Alison Eckel said...

Ahh quitting. A favorite pastime of mine. Okay - no quitting for me. By the way, how did you know I quit exercising??

lisanowak said...

The thing I'd most like to quit is doubting myself. But not biting my fingernails is certainly on the list. :)

Carolyn V. said...

Comparing myself is #1!!! I really need to stop that. Also, not feeling sure of myself. I just need to get out there and do it!

Crimey said...

We all have our moments, painful as they may be.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I think about quitting writing many days. Usually I consider this when I get overwhelmed with all the blogs and feeling like I have to read them, the demands of work, and worrying that I'm not a good enough writer and that I'm just wasting my time. I think I need to quit worrying about reading blogs so much and whether my book is good enough & just focus on enjoying the process.

Janet Johnson said...

I need to quit checking my e-mail so often! Quit wasting my time when I could be writing. Quit letting my fears control me. Submit and see what happens. Worst they can do is say 'no.' Right?

Great post!

Slamdunk said...

I need to quit blaming others for everything. "Speak to the hand" certainly applies to me.

She Wrote said...

Boy, do I know about that "biting my nails" business. Used to bite them down to the quick all through high school. Then I grew them out. But even now, if one breaks and I don't go get it fixed - I will chew it down to BIG trouble.

As far as the exercising and gym business...I am the best profit margin any gym will ever see walking in the door. Take my money, honey, 'cause it's the last time you're ever goning to see me. lol Great hopes - but this body is allergic. I just have to accept it.

On the other hand, I bought your book, "From the Query to the Call." Best thing I ever did. Stopped being terrified of the Query. Now I'm working on Fear of the Pitch. It's just another nail biter, after all.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

We're on the same page today, Elana. My post is about hanging in there, too. I WILL NOT quit. I will not! However long it takes, however difficult or frustrating the journey becomes, I'm plowing through it. :-)

Krispy said...

It's weird how timely the appearance of these posts are when you need them. I'm in the middle of making a big decision, which has made me question how and if I should proceed with my writing aspirations. ARGH.

I need to quit procrastinating and quit living in abject fear of failure. :P

Katie Ganshert said...

I'd love to quit cracking my fingernails...but I can't!

Quiting exercise is definitely much too easy. Same with quitting vegetables. now why can't quiting ice cream be as easy as chucking out the carrots?

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Great post Elana. Just what I needed!

I'm going to quit letting people discourage me. And I'm going to quit wasting time on things and people that don't add anything to my life. Oh, and I'm going to quit stressing about every. little. thing.

(Ha--the odds of any of those happening are slim to none. But I'm gonna try). :)

Amber Argyle-Smith said...

Believe it or not, I have the exact opposite problem. I don't know when to quit.

I keep at something so long it isn't healthy, just because I'm trying to be tough or because I "think" it's the right thing to do.

I've been trying to learn to do what WORKS.

Caledonia Lass said...

Well lady... sometimes we all quit stuff that just isn't fun or challenging. Sometimes my writing stops being fun. But I still love it.
It takes two weeks to form a habit and a month to break one. For most people anyway.
I've been trying to get into a Yoga routine, something I like doing. However, in the middle of my two week stretch, I got sick then other issues popped up and I just put it off like writing/revising.
I HAVE to make a goal for myself or I will never get it done. It isn't that I quit... I just don't finish what I start because I procrastinate too much.
But I HAVE to do it. I have to push myself and just get it done because no one else is going to do it for me. And if they happen to have the same idea as me...(doubtful) they just might do it better. :(

Yamile said...

I'm going to quit wasting time online and work on revisions instead.
I'm going to quit doubting my writing.
I'm going to quit being too hard on myself. I'm doing the best I can!

VR Barkowski said...

I'm not much of a quitter. I talk a good game, say I'm going to quit, pout, mope and moan, but never follow through, not officially. But I am a master at self-sabotage and for all intents and purposes, I quit writing in December. I filled my time with writing related activities blogging, critique groups, book groups, writing organizations (if you knew how many writing orgs and chapters I belong to, you'd faint). Then there are the many Yahoo boards, Twitter and Facebook. I made sure there was no time to write.

Just yesterday I began quitting again, this time culling out some of the time sucks that stand between me and doing what I love to do: write.

Heather Kelly said...

I'm going to quit trying to hurry the writing process. It happens when it happens. And never before.

Liza said...

I'm trying not to compare and then criticize myself. Comparing is OK when you learn from it...

Larissa said...

Natalie is super awesome.

I'm trying to quit spending more time on the internetz than I do writing, but... *sigh*

:)

Great post! :)

Shelley Sly said...

You have brilliant insight, Elana. I really needed to hear this.

I'm a total quitter. I quit jobs, clubs, exercise, health food... and though I've thought about quitting writing hundreds of times, even said it aloud -- "I don't think I should do this anymore" -- for some reason, I can't get myself to follow through with it.

But I'm right there with you, quitting comparisons, quitting beating myself up, and quitting idle wishing and instead getting my butt to work!

Thank you for this!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Well timed, Elana. I just spent time with an artist friend who admitted she struggles with this...the comparison trap. I confided that I do as well. Sometimes, I really shine in my own light and don't worry about anyone else. Other times, the doubt creeps in and I think, "Who am I kidding?" Argh! It is time to do away with those nagging thoughts once and for all, but I'm afraid they'll always be lurking, and I'll always be battling them to some extent. Still...it's so good to know that I'm not the only one. I think that's half the battle. Here's to quitting not recognizing our indisputable value as unique human beings, whatever our goals and dreams.

Aubrey said...

Love this post, Elana. I was in your awesome query class at Storymakers, but I didn't get a chance to meet you. Anyone who can get that many rejections and still keep querying is no quitter! I'm trying to be better, but inside, I am such a marshmallow. I admire you so much!

Jenn Johansson said...

Dude... inspirational.

I need to quit comparing myself as well. And quit feeling guilty for things I can't control.

Great post! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Love this post! I'm going to quit feeling guilty about not being able to do more! Time is such a limited commodity and real life has to come first. So... no more guilt!

jessjordan said...

Quitting is only easy when you're not addicted to something. And, well, I guess I'm kind of addicted to beating myself up, and judging myself against others, and generally feeling like I don't measure up. (And yeah, biting my nails. And chocolate.)

Sometimes, I swear I'm going to quit writing. I even manage to follow through for a few days or a few weeks, or even a few months. But I always come back to it. Because I'm addicted. Because it makes me feel alive ...

... until I convince myself, yet again, that I'm nowhere near good enough.

Writing is tough enough as it is w/o us all constantly comparing ourselves to one another.

So yeah. I'm with you. Or at least I'll give it a damn good shot.

Karen said...

Confession time: I am a quitter who is afraid of failing. So why even start? I have talked myself out of so many things, especially writing. Also, I'm not very good with criticism -- thin-skinned, you might say. To top that off, I lack discipline and hate routine. Any advice for someone like me who wants to write?

Kelly H-Y said...

Awesome post! I'm with ya!

Dominique said...

Good post.
I declare right now that I'm going to stop not writing just so I can read blogs. Writing must come first.

G said...

I quit doing chat rooms.

Less stress and less aggravation.

Renae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renae said...

Great post Elana! I've been stressing so much over what to write on my blog that my writing has suffered this week. So I quit! No more stressing! Ya Right!

Mary Aalgaard said...

I'm going to quit saying I'm not good enough, or worthy, and quit comparing (at least I'll try). I'm going to tell the Devil voices in my Committee to shut up so that the Angel voices can be heard. (I just posted to the link on my blog to an article I wrote on just this subject. Funny how a theme shows up in several places at the same time.)

Ben Hutchins said...

After you trashed my query letter hook in a session you were teaching at a conference, in a packed room of writers no less, I thought a few seconds about quitting :)

Good thing I have thick skin (and yes, I knew that might happen, but ouch, why me?). Actually, I'm grateful for it now, so thanks.

Write Chick said...

I'm a weird sort of quitter. I'll get obsessed with something and it's all I'll think about...for about three weeks or until I'm finished with it. Then I'm done. I've purged the need to think about it, and I never look back. This is why writing is so great for me. I've actually been obsessed with it forever. I love it! However, I want to quit comparing my writing to everyone else. When I start doing it, it seems everyone is better than me.

Oh, I gave up running a week ago, when I realized that I hate it. Does that count?

Nichole Giles said...

Yes. Tomorrow (because it's late tonight) I'm going to quit stalling and finish the most recent rewrite of my query and get back to submitting.

Thanks!

j.m. neeb said...

Elana, a quick (well, let's be liberal with the definition of that word for a sec!) thought regarding quitting...

People can be divided into all kinds of manners: Democrat/Republican, Socialists/Capitalists, Dog/Cat, etc.

One such division that comes courtesy of our personality types is process-oriented vs. results-oriented. Now, I find Myers-Briggs personality typing to be absolutely fascinating -- on account of how spot-on it is -- and people who are Perceivers tend to be "process" and those who are Judgers are "results."

My Myers-Briggs personality type is INFP, which is actually a very typical one for writers (even though it is one of the rarest of the 16 different "types"). Shakespeare, Orwell, Plath are just some of the classic INFP's out there. If you love writing and do so reasonably well, the odds are good (but not 100%, I realize) you might be one, too.

So my point? Well, INFP's are process-oriented. I have a hard time finishing most things. I get distracted by other possibilities. We are idealists and live in a world of infinite ideas. It really makes finishing things quite difficult and annoying because we have "the next great idea" way before hitting the finish line of the previous one.

Anyhow, I wonder if perhaps you are an INFP, too. Or, failing that, maybe you have the "P" characteristic. Perceivers are the process, and not results, oriented variety.

Not to pimp my blog, but if you want to stop by Ducks Out Of A Row and read my intial blog post, I have a link to a free MBTI test. Who knows, perhaps I'm wrong and you are an ESTJ (which would be the complete opposite), but it might help you learn about various tendencies.

Just a thought from some random dude in Holland, MI...

j.m. neeb said...

Dang it, just realized that someone could infer that I think I'm as gifted as the writers I mentioned... Totally not the case!! I'm a work in progress and think I have some potential, but I can't imagine ever falling in that class of writer.

Anyhow, I'm not saying that the fact I share a personality type with the greatest writer ever means I'll come close to his level. Not at all.

In spite of idealistic tendencies, I can be grounded in some areas!!

Suzette Saxton said...

Count me in! Fabulous post, E!

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