Monday, February 8, 2016

How Quitting Keeps Me Writing

Today's guest post is by author and blogger 
Lori Roeleveld. We will be giving away 
a copy of her new book, Running from a Crazy Man, so be sure to leave a comment below to be entered for the drawing. The winner will be announced on February 15th. Don't forget to check back to see if YOU are the winner.


By Lori Stanley Roeleveld

One skill writers must perfect is the knack of therapeutic quitting.

That’s right. If you haven’t quit yet, you’re not a real writer. From the novice to the veteran writer, we’ve all felt like quitting (or will) at some point. There’s a good reason for that.


Discouragement
One reason is frequent opportunity for discouragement. In some jobs, you interview once and it’s yours. Writers interview all the time – for agents, editors, marketers, reviewers, and for every reader. Inherent in all those interviews is the possibility of repeated rejection. Pre-published writers may spend years writing in obscurity. Once a writer begins publishing, it can still be a long road to a lasting sense of success.

Watch out for the creative curve
Another reason is the natural lows of the creative curve. When a writer is engaged in a writing project, he or she feels a sense of purpose and value. Once a project is completed and leaves the writer’s hands, there’s a natural period of letdown and depletion. Sometimes, writers battle fear that they’ll never write again. One way to handle these challenges is therapeutic quitting.

The art of quitting
On my way to becoming published, I’ve made a habit of quitting. My family’s become accustomed to my process. My daughter will hear my pronouncement from the other room, watch me shut down my computer, and then stalk to the kitchen. “That’s it. It’s too hard. I quit. I’ll never write again. I stink at writing.”

She knows the right response: “You really do. There’s no reason to keep at it. You should quit. I’ll set the timer.”

The timer. That’s key to the therapeutic quitting process – a time limit and one simple rule. Each bump in the writing road makes me want to give up, so giving up on my own terms for a limited time allows me an opportunity to give grief its due without wallowing in it for long.

So, I quit until quitting time is up. Most rejections (or contest losses, or uncooperative manuscripts) only require a one or two hour period of being quit. If a project made it far in a publishing house or if I was a finalist in a contest, I might choose to quit for an entire 24-hour period. There is only one solid rule for the quitting time: no writing.

I’m free to be sincere about quitting. I’m free to tell friends and family that I’ve quit. Sometimes I do something productive such as clean, but other times I binge-watch Netflix. Frequently, I’ll make a list of the blessings in my life. I have dreams for my writing but my life revolves around God, not those dreams. Remembering His presence in my life, come what may with writing, renews my perspective. However I spend the time, I quit writing until the time is up. As soon as it is, I start writing again.

Benefits of quitting
It can be cathartic to quit after completing a major project too. Many writers feel a sense of depletion or loss after completing a book or play. Much like a child growing up and leaving home, a manuscript completed and released to a publisher deserves a moment of acknowledgement. I’ve learned to quit writing after a big project, circle a date on my calendar, turn in my keyboard, and remind myself that there is life beyond my laptop. When the circled date arrives, I un-quit and power up the computer once more.

As writers, we must develop thick skins and be willing to endure, but we’re not machines. We have feelings about rejection, about losing or not selling well, and about completing major projects. Therapeutic quitting gives those feelings a safe space to have their moment and then exit stage left, freeing us to move on to our next chapter.

So, what about you? Are you ready to quit? I’ll set the timer.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles/Salvatore Vuomo.)

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Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored an unsettling blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Her next nonfiction book, Jesus and the Beanstalk, is scheduled to release September 2016 from Abingdon Press. Though she has degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori learned the most important things from studying her Bible in life’s trenches. You’ll find her at her website www.loriroeleveld.com. If not, know she’s off somewhere slaying dragons. Not available for children’s parties.





14 comments:

  1. So #True! I've quit more times than I can count...but it's okay-as long as the last thing I did was "not quit".

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  2. I've never quit on purpose. I've had dry spells (like right now) but the desire is always there to write. So is that something I should try???

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    1. Keep writing long enough and it will happen. It's not something you should force but it's a good weapon when discouragement hits as long as you have an end time to return.

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  3. Love this attitude, Lori! And yes, I've tried, too...but I just can't really quit. Thanks for speaking the truth of being a writer!

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  4. Lori, I've quit on several occasions, once for good--I thought. Never considered setting a timer, though. Thanks for providing this insight into your world, and the assurance that I'm not the only writer who has ever felt that way. Glad you've stuck with it.

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    1. Thank you, Richard! I heard Jerry Jenkins say that Steven King once said about his own quitting "I always mean it but . . ." then a story starts working on him again. I think we're in good company.

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  5. Hah, I quit shortly after I set out on this research trip. Too big a project. Too much to learn. Too little talent. After 24 hours I was back on track.
    Thanks for letting me know that's part of the Writing Club. Guess I'm learning.

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  6. I love the idea of the timer. I would have never thought of that. Not only can that be applied to writing, but other things in our life that discourage us. Setting a time limit and then moving on is a great strategy. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Sheryl. With me, it became a family affair. My daughter would often be the one to determine the time limit depending on the severity of the disappointment.

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    2. It became a family thing. My daughter set the timer.

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