Writing is hard.
Exhilarating, rewarding, life giving? Absolutely! Sometimes though, it’s just straight up a pain. What is it that separates published authors from the hundreds of thousands of wannabes? I think a little illustration might help.
Recently, I was put through intensive spine shaping therapy due to a back injury. What does that mean? Everyone, including myself, was most curious to know.
As I quickly found out, it’s something you would only wish upon drivers who don’t use their blinkers, coworkers who bring you cookies while you’re dieting, and friends who clog your Facebook with an hourly countdown to matrimony. Picture the torture device from the movie Princess Bride and you have a pretty accurate representation of my daily routine.
Essentially, I was tied down to a chair with weighted straps pulling my neck and back in directions they did not want to go. I wondered my first time what happened if I got claustrophobic. I could feel my airways constricting and not just out of panic. Swallowing felt like choking. I now understood the terror waterboarding could cause. What happened if I had to get out?
Then, a shining little bell of hope and comfort was placed on my lap.
“Ring it if it’s too much,” were the instructions given.
I didn’t need clarification. I couldn’t have asked anyway.
As I was driving home after therapy and thinking about writing, the bell came up.
In writing we wage a similar battle. The battle to quit, throw in the towel, ring that devilish little bell and say it’s all over. Who cares if we’re working toward an admirable goal? It’s just not worth it anymore.
Maybe it comes after re-reading something you wrote and remember being brilliant only to find yourself gaging at your own words. Maybe all it takes is a trusted friend never finishing your book and knowing they never will because you can’t hook them. Maybe it’s a slow death that comes after days and years of not reaching your writing goals. Whatever the case, if you haven’t been at the cusp of ringing that bell before, there will come a day.
I’ve certainly been there.
But then I did something that might sound silly or surprising but that’s helped me. I wrote a letter. To myself.
In that letter I promised the future Candace I would not give up—not even consider it an option. I would finish my book and I would get it published. Until I receive enough rejection letters to have a bonfire and all my mentors and writing groups tell me it’s over, I will keep trying. And if that moment comes, when it’s time to cut my losses, then, and only then, will I scrap my work and start again. This time with another book, another story, and another character to love and nurture.
But I won’t ever give up. Not on writing. Not ever.
I never did ring that bell at the chiropractor. Today my back is better and I’m back to all my favorite pass times.
Don’t ring the bell.
Give it some time. Do some breathing exercises, listen to some soothing music, pray, trace patterns with your eyes on the wall, write a letter—do whatever it takes but don’t touch that bell. Yes, every second is excruciating but don’t give in.
Don’t even let that bell sit on your lap. Put it somewhere far away where you can’t reach it. Don’t let giving up be an option. Keep going!
This is Candace signing off to go to the gym.