I’m on a ten-day Christmas break from the day job over here at WriteGoodBooks-land, so that means ten days of staying up late getting as much writing and writing related stuff done as I can, so that I can close out the new year on a high note.
So after finding places for all the new Christmas toys and getting the kids soundly tucked in to their beds, I retreated to the kitchen table and got to work on my share of short stories I’m reading for The Write Practice’s 2016 Winter Writing Contest.
After an unspecified amount of time, I decided to take a break from that and work on some other stuff. Anyhow, one thing lead to another and I didn’t get into bed until 1:00 AM (1:02, to be precise). I must have immediately passed out, because I blinked my eyes and it was 1:09, there was a whole lot of crying, and my wife calling out for help.
Don’t worry; it wasn’t a burglar. But it was the next worst thing. Our one-year-old was throwing up all over her crib and everything else within the vicinity.
So we spent the next two hours with her lying with my wife as I did laundry, changed clothes (all of our clothes), washed out the “puke bucket”, washed faces, did more laundry, etc. We got her down, but the process started up again at 5 AM.
And through the whole thing, the groggy me kept asking myself, why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this? And by “this” I don’t mean parenting; I wouldn’t give that up for anything. I mean writing. Why am I doing this to my family? The late nights, the sleep deprivation, the “you can’t talk to Daddy right now; he’s writing.”
So what’s the alternative? To quit? Never in a million years. The late nights are hard, but our kids are only young once, so spending evenings with the family and post-bed our with the writing is my choice.
But while I say “never in a million years” right now, sure those thoughts of quitting do sneak in my head sometimes. And I’m sure it happens to you too. So when you do feel like quitting or stepping away from your dream, here are four questions to ask yourself to help keep you on track:
1. Why do you want to quit?
This is important. Ask yourself why you’re feeling like giving up. I alluded to this early in this post, with the long nights and sick kids, but there are plenty of other reasons I sometimes feel like throwing in the towel. I don’t want to whine about it, but I started writing fiction in 2010. Six years of rejections, on top of feeling like I’m not getting enough done fast enough can add up. I’m sure we all feel that way at times. But whatever your reason for wanting to quit, make sure you know what exactly it is; it will be easier to own–and overcome–that way.
2. Why did you start in the first place?
When you first started chasing your dream (in my case, writing) why? Why did you do it? What long-term goals did you set when you started? What is your endgame? In my case, writing was always what I wanted to do “when I grew up” or “when I had time.” I finally took those first steps in early 2010, and that endgame goal was–and still is–to someday make enough to write full time.
3. What have you accomplished in the last 365 days?
If you’re feeling helpless, like you haven’t had one iota of success, building toward your dream, I’m going to tell you right now that you’re wrong. (Unless, of course, you haven’t been working. Then that’s on you.) If you have been working toward your goal, take a quick inventory of everything you’ve got done. If you’ve received a bunch of rejection letters, that means you’ve finished a bunch of short stories. Every word you write, every chapter, or short story you finish is a victory of sorts. Don’t forget that, and just keep pushing.
4. What is one thing you can do right now to get yourself closer to your goal?
And I mean RIGHT NOW. If you were to drop everything and do just one thing that could help you achieve your writing (or whatever) goal, what is it? It’s good to know the answer to this for two reasons. 1) It teaches you that little things matter and can help you in the long-term and 2) There WILL come a time someday where you realize you’ve got an extra 30-minutes to kill. Instead of wasting it scrolling through your facebook feed, do that one thing.
So to close things out, just remember that no matter how negative things may seem, or how down you might feel, keep everything in perspective and remember why you’re doing all this stuff in the first place. And never forget that the ones who make it are the ones who don’t give up.
What about you? How do you keep going after your dream when you feel like you’re losing it?