When You Feel Like Giving Up

Have you ever started a project with gusto and then while in the middle of it realize that you may have made a terrible mistake?

It could be a book, an organizational task, a move, or a garage sale. But you and I have both had that sinking feeling of “Oh no. What have I done!”

Photo Credit: TheNoxid via Compfight cc

My blogs, books, and several of my moves over the last ten years have felt this way. I stand there, wondering what the next step is, and consider eating seven slices of pizza as the answer to feeling overwhelmed. It’ll never get done anyway.

I wrote a while back about the U shaped journey of the creative referenced in Todd Henry’s book Louder Than Words. The visionary starts their journey with joy. They can see the other side and it should be a quick hike down into the valley and up the other side. Once the sun is out of view, however, the forest grows tall and dark, and the traveler hears a wolf howl. So they stumble forward with suborn single-mindedness and soon enough, find ourselves out the other side.

Life is not this easy. But the truth is that anything worth doing is bound to get really difficult. I am not sure who said writing books and having four kids was easy but they were lying. Sure I love my novels and non-fiction stories and love my kids even more than that but I’d like to commiserate with you and say we’ve all been there, feeling like everything we do is terrible.

That ___ is a mistake.

That ___ will amount to nothing.

It wasn’t always this hard or energy sapping but it feels like it will forever be so going forward.

Friend, great writers weren’t magically endowed with the writing gift when they were born. Sure some might have a leg up, but I know many writers that are incredibly talented that struggle with doubt in the middle of every project.

I have heard it said that when you get to the place of being really uncomfortable or feeling like you are lost then you have crossed the border between imitation and originality in art.

If you feel like giving up, I implore you to move forward. There are so many books and blogs that have encouraged and inspired me on my journey. I know that it may seem impossible to continue onward but I hope you do. Remember the joy that came at the beginning and write from there.

It will take time but keep writing. That is the one and only way to know if your work will be worth it in the end.

Do you feel like giving up?

How can I encourage you today?


When You Are Burnt Out

Life happens to all of us. We are called away, get busy and sooner or later wind up spent.

Earlier this month, I drove from my home in Grand Rapids, MI to Rochester, NY and back to MI. Then got up, flew down to Frisco, TX for a work conference and then flew back to MI. The next day I drove to NY and two days later drove back home – all in eight days.

This whirlwind did not make me excited or energized as you might think a trip or time away from the office might. I grew more and more exhausted as the days went on. I anticipated that I would have time to sit down and put words on the page. Instead I rushed from one thing to the next and tried to force some fiction only to delete most of it.

It was then I knew I arrived at a place we all come to now and again – the roadside of life. Okay, this might seem a bit melodramatic, but I am a writer after all. But we’ve all been there – the place where a basic task seems akin to moving a mountain. In the words of Jim Gaffigan, “I should probably get the mail. But then I’d have to put on pants.”

Coffee Not Helping?
Coffee Not Helping?

If you’ve been there or are there now you know there are two directions you can go. Further down the path of the exhaustive rut or with a little effort, we can start to turn things around.

But how do you turn things around if you are stuck in the same life sucking rhythm?

Well, let’s start with stating the obvious. The current rhythm does not work. That and we’ve either lost or forgotten our passion. I stopped traveling and instead of sleeping in and getting rest, I knew I needed to stick my heels in. So, I decided to get up between 5:15 or 5:30 a few mornings. I got up and stretched those writing muscles and worked on a couple of new short stories. I knew that if I started something short, something doable, I could use that momentum to face longer projects, like my novel.

How about you? Have your wheels fallen off? What project do you need to do but do not have the energy to get it done?

Keep working.

Keep writing.