All the Times I Quit: Storytime

Also known as “the art of feeling really bad about your writing self.” In honor of Insecure Writers Support Group day, I’m going to post about my confidence issues. I don’t officially participate in the hop, but I happen to want to talk about my writer insecurity today. Also, the question this month asked if you ever said “I Quit” and what made you come back to writing. That’s a soapbox for me, and funny enough, I also wanted to talk about that.

The main reason is because I need the pep talk. I feel like the first 20k words of “The Puppet Box” are trash, and while I know that isn’t the case because I’ve read over them already (bad writer), I’m still having severe confidence issues. I never thought comparing myself to myself would be a big problem, but juggling projects is hard. I’m constantly seeing an edited project next to an unedited one, and I just feel like my first drafts should be better. I know. I don’t know how to stop.

Time #1
2009 – I hadn’t written anything new since 2003, and I was starting to feel like I couldn’t write anymore! A lot of writers probably know how that is. Long story short, it took me a year to write, the story was bad, and no one would help me. One person only skimmed it after seven months of having it and sent back the worst notes in the world. Person #2 never talked to me again, and the third person I asked said he printed it out and then lost it in his office. 😐 So, I did what any writer who can’t take a hint would do in my situation. I edited the damn thing myself, to the best of my ability, and sent it out to agents. Then I quit. For two whole years. I didn’t even try. I did nothing. Well, I wallowed in self-pity.

Time #2
2011 – I finally talked myself into writing again, because I just felt ill not writing. The project in question was a planned vampire series, and it’s already established that I’m not a series writer, so I tried to cram the four book series into two books. Once I realized it wasn’t going to work, I fell apart and spent a year trying to convince myself to try again.

Time #3
2012 – I read The Hunger Games trilogy, got inspired, and then rewrote the first book in the vampire series. I loved it, outlined all the stupid books to follow, and another long story short, I had another meltdown, like a SEVERE “why can’t the world just eat me so I can die” kind of meltdown. It lasted about two months. Which is a long time to teether on a cliff, but whatever.

As you can see, though, the times between me quitting and trying again were getting shorter. Since that meltdown, I’ve probably wanted to quit about 200 more times. Nearly every day. This isn’t an exaggeration. Ask my sister.

Things get chaotic here. Projects were written, abandoned, put in contests, and queried. Then I wrote a lot of nothing in 2015, but I was trying. Fighting, actually. And brainstorming like a lunatic. Since November-ish 2015, I’ve probably only actually wanted to quit once. That was right before I wrote “Legion” which became NO REST FOR THE WICKED. Which brings me to:

Time #4
2016 – I had just finished a book that I wrote at lightning speed. I was literally clocking 2500+ words an hour on that thing. I average 1200 words an hour, normally. That was insane. And the story wasn’t even all that good. I had a moment where I was like, “Aren’t I supposed to be getting better?” And another moment that was like, “When are you finally going to listen to yourself and do what you want?”

I quit for about a week. Then, for sanity’s sake, I decided that I would try “one more time,” and that time I would take all the fear and doubt and worry and anxiety and just plumb “trying too hard,” and I would shove it under my butt to act as a cushion for my bruised rear, because let’s face it, they’re not going away. They might as well help a writer out.

Every time things get hard, I think, “why am I doing this?” And Doubt starts pitching a fit. Which makes me pitch a fit. But when I’m done, I crawl over to the wall I ran into, exhausted as crap, and say to Doubt, “Can you hand me that ladder over there?” And Doubt does and we scale the wall together. Because I just won’t stay down. Probably because I’m crazy.

I’ve asked myself if I wanted to quit writing “The Puppet Box” about three times in the last month. It helps that I really want to finish the story, because let’s be real, I can quit if I want. I think part of the problem, too, is that the insomnia flared up in March, which means I’ve slept poorly for over two months now. Also, I’m character-driven writer and “The Puppet Box” is very plot-driven, and I’m having a hard time with that, too.

YouTube Video of the Week: Author Tag – Another thing I feel insecure about, but I want to do it, so I’ll get over it. ^_^

13 Responses to All the Times I Quit: Storytime

  1. Oy! But you haven’t quit and you aren’t going to quit, dammit! It might just be part of your process, sort of like how I always do a shitty first draft. Although this time around, as slow as it’s going, (so slow) the actual quality of said draft is not that shitty. So that’s nice. 🙂 I didn’t write a lot in the second half of last year.

  2. Oy! Well, the point is, you didn’t quit! And you wrote a book! And you’re going to write more. I’m liking what I’m writing now and it’s not nearly as shitty as my usual first drafts are, which is nice. And your latest YouTube video was lovely! 🙂 Fact is, I don’t have as much time to angst about writing than I used to, so, you know, angsting or doubting or not, when I have time to write, I need to write. It’s going slowly, as per my usual, but that’s okay, it’s going!

    • You’re awesome. ^_^ I’m glad the drafting is going well! I’ve liked all the excerpts you’ve posted. 🙂 I think I need to stop shooting for super polished first drafts. I’m starting to think that’s not possible. Haha.

  3. I think the biggest time I nearly quit as when I was revising my very first novel, and writing a novel still sounded like the most impossible thing in the world, and revising it was going nowhere, and the idea of writing and revising another novel seemed like the biggest, worst chunk of impossible of all. I finally gave myself permission to move on, after I’d written a couple more, and submitted that first one to a bunch of agents.

  4. You’re writing journey is so much like mine! I almost quit The Greenling Chronicles three times last month, but every time I came up with one to five reasons that I didnt’ want to quit, so I decided this one is the one (whatever that ends up meaning, considering it’s supposed to be one of a series).
    Here’s to picking those projects back up again and rocking them to the end!

    • Definitely! I’m glad you’re still going with the Chronicles! There have been a few times the thought of quitting a story made me feel relieved, but the thought of quitting this made me sad, so I keep going. 😀

Hi! ^_^