I've mentioned this here and there on my blog before, but I thought today would be a good day to have a discussion about it. And by it, I mean that moment when you give up writing. Wait, you haven't had that moment? You're lucky :) Because there have been times when I've been so frustrated with my writing, and with trying to get published, that I've said "This Isn't Worth It." And at those times, I've been done with writing. Found other things to do. And I'm here to say that, sometimes, that's okay.
The one time that I really went whole-hog on stopping writing was after a particularly frustrating rejection. No, I won't say which one (but I will say that I'm an advocate that people should be nice, being nasty or snarky has no place in my heart). At any rate, I really was ticked. And sad. And may have cried a little. At that point, I had to take a long hard look at what I was doing and whether or not it was worth my time. Sure, I loved writing. But I was also very busy with my degree, with my family, with the rest of my full life. My decision was that I didn't need this extra pressure I was putting on myself to write. I could do without it and be Just Fine.
I found other things to do. Amazingly, a dissertation takes up a lot of time :) And for a few months, I was fine. I read, I watched TV, I found other ways to feed my creative need. And then, while hunting through a forgotten external back-up drive (I have like three, because you only ever lose all your computer files once before you get supremely anal about it), I came across a copy of my writing files. I'd missed one. Being in a better frame of mind, I didn't delete this one, but moved it into my documents under the title "Crappy Waste of Time" (my writing file still carries this name).
Anyhow, clearly I got over myself. It took me a good while to realize just how much I missed writing. Because that's what finally got my documents resurrected from The Crappy Waste of Time. I've been writing since I was 11, and giving it up made it feel like something was missing. So, without thinking about ever sending another query, without caring what came of it, I went back to writing. (Can I just say that having some time to just sit and live in your own little world is completely wonderful? Nothing beats it!) Clearly, things have gone a little better since then. I have a book coming out. I have two others I'm in the middle of editing. That's not to say that there aren't times when I need a break, but I've yet to delete everything again :)
So, what am I trying to get at in this really long post? Well, that sometimes it's OKAY to need to give it up. Maybe the time isn't right. Or you're just not quite ready. Maybe you need to focus on something else right then. I'm not saying that doing what I did was the right thing, but I really think that at that point, I needed the space and time to remember just what I'm in this game for.
If you reach that point where it hurts more than it helps, it's okay to take a break. To find something else to make you happy. If you love it, it'll be there waiting for you when you're ready to come back to it. Take your files and place them somewhere where they don't nag you every time you're on your computer. Give yourself some breathing room, and don't beat yourself up about it (good grief, women are the worst about this, I think--I know I am...). When you are able to sit back down and remember what got you writing in the first place, the characters that made you laugh (possibly in public, leading to all kinds of strange looks), or the stories that just won't leave you alone, then that's awesome.
Okay, off my soapbox!
Have you ever experience the "delete it all" moment? Or the "what the heck am I doing this for?" moment? What inspired it? What got you through? Did it kill you or make you stronger? :)