“I can’t do this anymore …”
I wonder if you’ve said that lately. Or at least thought it.
I have. And sometimes it’s true. Sometimes it’s really how you feel, and you don’t know what else to say. But the minute the words are out, you know you don’t really mean it. You know, despite the insurmountable odds, the closed doors and the brick walls that seem too high to scale … you can do this.
Let’s be honest. Writing is one of the hardest jobs out there. For many of us, the journey to publication is a dream we’ve held for years. We write because we love it, but we also long for the opportunity to share our work with the world. And some days that goal seems lofty. Some days you tell yourself it’ll never happen. And some days, well … you know what happens. Life takes over.
And the words won’t come.
I remember a time a few years back where I quit. I quit writing because I quit believing in myself. Rejection after rejection convinced me I’d never be any good at this thing, never get an agent, let alone one day get to hold my own book in my hands. The easiest thing to do would be to shut down the computer. Besides, my kids needed me, my husband needed me, and there were a lot of other things going on that demanded my attention. I was emotionally drained, discouraged, and ready to pack it in.
Have you been there?
Maybe that’s how you feel today. Maybe you think that walking away is easier. It’s not. Not if you really believe you’re called to this thing. Not if you know that God has given you this incredible gift – the ability to weave words into beautiful tapestries that touch the hearts and minds of readers and give them joy, hope.
So … we don’t quit.
But how … how do we write when we’re in the midst of battle? Surrounded by hard circumstances and situations we can’t control … how … when it’s all we can do to get out of bed in the morning … how?
I’ve heard that desperate cry in my head more times than I care to share. Trust me, I know. I know how hard it is. But I also know you can do it. And I can too.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This used to be my biggest downfall. I’d be too worried about what people would think if I told them how I really felt. I refused to ask for help when I needed it most. Not anymore. Now I know the first thing to do when I’m in that hard place, is to reach out. First to God, but then to that trusted group of friendsyour prayer warriors, your confidants, your A-teamoh, I hope you’ve got one of those. Because I have to tell you, when you’re in the midst of the storm, you need all those arms around you.
One day at a time.
Do what you can. Nobody says it has to be perfect. You just have to show up. Show up and write. Clear your mind of the clutter and see what comes out. If you’re on deadline, obviously you need to keep going with that story, but if you simply can’t … then just write a blog. Write a piece of flash fiction. Poetry. A letter to your grandmother or great-aunt. Anything. Just write. And don’t tell yourself you can’t, because you know that’s not true. Try setting a goal, even if it’s only a paragraph. Tomorrow it might be page. And then a chapter. Believe it’ll come.
Be good to yourself.
Take breaks. Go for a walk, work-out, watch a movie, go get some coffee with a friend, whatever you need to do to find joy. Because staring at a white page on the screen in front of you is no fun. And we want this to be fun, don’t we?
Remind me why I’m doing this?
I say this a lot. And my wise friends will answer, “Because you can’t not.” And it’s true. I’ve tried. Each time I want to give up, quit and never write another word, I get that yearning, that unrest in the pit of my stomach that says I’ll never be truly content unless I’m writing. I know now part of the reason I can’t quit is because this is who I am. I’m a writer. God made me this way. He’s given me the talent and He’s put me on this path, and provided amazing gifts along the way. How dare I try to refuse it!
Imagine a family, poor, hard-working, who want nothing more than to see their son succeed - he’s a straight A student and all his teachers tell them he’s capable of doing whatever he sets his mind to, so they save every penny they can, and finally have enough money to offer him the ability to attend college. And he turns around and tells them, “No thanks, I’m just going to roam the country aimlessly, pick up odd jobs when I can … it’ll be good.” You know?
Don’t refuse the gift.
Yes, there will be difficult times. We’re not promised cake and ice cream every day.
But we are asked to persevere. To be faithful. To be filled with faith and confidence, even when we feel empty inside. Do what you can today, trust God for tomorrow, and don’t ever, ever give up.
Have you wanted to quit lately? How do you write through the difficult times?
Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, released in September 2012, was long listed in the 2012 INSPY’s and was a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards. Catherine’s latest novel, Bridge of Faith, is now available on Amazon.
When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com
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