By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)
I thought about quitting today.
It’s not the first time. I’m sure it won’t be the last.
We all hit that point.
It’s that point where the one rejection letter outweighs all the acceptances because it was the one that really mattered to you.
It’s the point where you get tired of hearing you have a strong voice, intricate world-building, an interesting premise, solid writing, BUT this story isn’t for them or they don’t see a market for it.
It’s the point where your blog stops growing or you lose a few subscribers or fewer people are commenting, and you wonder if blogging is really worth the effort.
It’s the point where you buy a new writing book or take a writing course, and instead of feeling excited you want to cry because you realize how much you still have to learn. Because you know that good isn’t good enough. And suddenly you see how far away from your goal you still are.
It’s the point where the one person you thought believed you were going to be a success starts talking about how realistically, even if you go indie, you’ll never make as much as you would at a normal job.
It’s the point where you retire a story you loved, still love, to a drawer and start over. Again. And you wonder how many times can I keep doing this?
It’s that point.
When you hit it, you have to decide—do I give up and walk away or do I keep pushing and hoping?
And what you hear in your head is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting something to change.
What you hear in your head is all the times in an argument you’ve been told you don’t know when to quit (and it wasn’t meant as a compliment).
And you think what if they’re right? Is there a time when the right and smart thing to do is to finally, at last, give up the fight?
Or is that point the point where we need to push harder? To plant our final seed of courage in the cracked ground and pray it grows? To drag ourselves forward one bloodied-fingered inch at a time because we’re almost there?
Is that the point right before we succeed?
You stand there holding quitting in one hand and potential insanity in the other, and instead of thinking about which is better, you think about which comes with the greater cost.
If you quit, you’re going to look back in one year, ten years, your last hours and wonder what if? What if I could’ve done it if I’d tried just a little longer?
If you go forward, you risk spending your life on something that never pans out. Could you have been successful at something else instead? Happier even? You know there are other things you love to do.
To quit or to persevere. To embrace practicality or to embrace hope.
You start to ask yourself, if you knew you’d never succeed, if the 80-year-old you took a time machine back to tell the present you that you didn’t make it, would you do it anyway?
Would you write for hours, sacrificing time with friends and opportunities for fun?
Would you ignore the pain in your back and the aching and stiffness in your hands that feels suspiciously like early-onset arthritis in order to write?
Would you continue to sink money into your dream that you could have otherwise used for vacations or to make your spouse’s or children’s lives a little easier?
Would you do those things if you knew they would never yield the results you wanted? Is there enough value in fighting for it to keep going even if you lose?
With all of that tumbling around inside, you stop and ask yourself–how much do I really want it?
Maybe you decide to walk away. Perhaps you’re smarter than me.
Because, for today at least, I want it bad enough to cling to the belief that one more step might bring me to the inflection point. I want it bad enough that I’m going to keep working until it happens. I want it bad enough to put in the work to make it happen. And I still believe that there’s value in chasing our dreams, even if we never catch them.
Do you ever feel like quitting on your dreams? What (or who) talks you down off the ledge? Or do you think there is a time to stop and move on?
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Fall WANA International classes are up. I’m teaching How to Write Faster and Make the Most of Your Limited Time for only $30. Class starts October 13th, so sign up now.
Photo Credit: Billy Alexander (from www.sxc.hu)