Have You Ever Been Tempted to Give Up?

by Jami Gold on March 15, 2011

in Random Musings

White flag

First, let me state: No, I’m not giving up.  But this round in the deadline cave has been especially brutal, so I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind for a split second.

This past weekend, my computer froze in the middle of saving my document and the file got corrupted.  Computers and I have long had a love/hate relationship, so I had a copy saved…

From 12 hours earlier.

Just past midnight, I was faced with the task of trying to recreate a day’s worth of work before I went to sleep.  I knew that after I slept, I wouldn’t be able to remember all the missing pieces.  I let myself have a five minute freak-out and then buckled down to do the work.

But this experience made me wonder about which things push us to the breaking point?  And which things keep us going?

For me, this computer problem neared that breaking point.  Losing a day’s worth of work when under deadline is not helpful for keeping on schedule.

Luckily, my stubbornness had something to say to that frustration.  I’m also extremely blessed to have a supportive family who help me through the rough spots.  It would have been much harder to bounce back from this computer issue without someone to listen to my venting.

Also, my work was much better after the day’s changes and I wanted to capture that improvement.  So even though it meant staying up until 3 a.m., I fixed all those same issues a second time.  By the end, I was happy that I’d succeeded in beating back those computer demons.

What pushes you to the edge of giving up (lack of time, rejections, something else)?  What things help motivate and encourage you (a support system, wanting to prove something, finding successes wherever you can)?  Share your experiences in the comments.

30 Comments below - Time to Add your own.

CMStewart March 15, 2011 at 5:26 am

Glad you hung in there, Jami! Way to go! :)

Occasionally I’m tempted to take a day off when I’m in the middle of a project, but I figure if I do that I’ll feel even more overwhelmed the next day. So I plow through.

My biggest motivation is “wanting to prove something,” to myself. Measuring myself against other people isn’t very useful, I’ve found, because I’m not other people. :)

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Jami Gold March 15, 2011 at 7:21 am

Hi CM,

Yes, here’s to that “wanting to prove something” to ourselves. I think that might be another way to say “stubborn.” :) Thanks for the comment!

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Laura Pauling March 15, 2011 at 5:42 am

Nothing that makes sense will push me to the edge. For no rhyme or reason one week I’ll be encouraged and the next week wondering if this is really something I can do. I’m sure something triggers it but i’ve learned to ignore both extremes!

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Jami Gold March 15, 2011 at 7:23 am

Hi Laura,

Ah, that sounds like the big picture version of: my writing is brilliant/crap. :) Sometimes, life just feels like a teeter-totter doesn’t it? Thanks for the comment!

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Adventures in Children's Publishing March 15, 2011 at 7:47 am

Good for you for not giving up! That’s such an incredibly painful experience–and I wish I could say I hadn’t been there. I don’t know that I would have made it the whole twelve hours. And I would have needed more than the five minutes of freakout. Something along the lines of 5lbs of chocolate, for starters! Sending mental hugs and sympathy. And BIG congrats!

Martina

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Jami Gold March 15, 2011 at 7:50 am

Hi Martina,

LOL! Yes, I did go through more than the usual amount of chocolate this past weekend. :) Thanks for the comment!

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M.E. Anders March 15, 2011 at 8:14 am

I am pushed to the breaking point when my internet gets disconnected for seemingly no reason! My hubby knows that it better get fixed ASAP… :)

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Jami Gold March 15, 2011 at 8:17 am

Hi M.E.,

Oh yes, very true! Between email and Twitter and blog reading, I live on the internet, and you’re right, it’s not pretty when there’s a problem. :) Thanks for the comment!

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Murphy March 15, 2011 at 10:06 am

Hang in there kid! You’re on the home-stretch now. :)

Murphy

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Jami Gold March 15, 2011 at 10:36 am

Hi Murphy,

That’s what I keep telling myself. :) Thanks for the comment!

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Suzi McGowen March 15, 2011 at 10:11 am

After a brutal query letter critique, I was tempted to trunk my novel. The ideas that I have in the novel are so contrary to people’s expectations that I figure it would never sell, and maybe the only people that would ever like it would be me. And my son.

Fortunately, when I mentioned to my crit group (not the people that crited the query letter) that I was thinking about trunking this book, they jumped all over me and helped me to see that other people (besides my son, who’s pretty much obligated to like it) will like it too.

So, I would say in a perfect world I’d have enough confidence in myself that I would never need to be talked off that ledge, in the real world I’m glad I have a support team to talk me down :)

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Jami Gold March 15, 2011 at 10:39 am

Hi Suzi,

Believe me. I understand the issues with a “hard sell.” :) Is this the troll story? If so, know that I think the premise of your story sounds great too, so add me to the list of your supporters. Thanks for the comment!

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Elaine March 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Oh! I felt your pain. You are resilient! My computer lost an hours work and I was sooo upset. I went through the one of the 101 ways to rescue lost files I knew ;) I remembered one particular sentence that I’d altered until it flowed but, not matter what, I couldn’t remember the changes I’d made. My support team talked me back from the brink – it was only one sentence I couldn’t make as right.

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Jami Gold March 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Hi Elaine,

Oh no! Yes, I understand. Luckily, I have a pretty good memory for that type of stuff, so I was able to remember all the changes I’d made. *whew* Thanks for the comment!

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Gene Lempp March 16, 2011 at 1:48 am

I only thought of giving up once, due to life overwhelm. In rare moments of free time I’d try to concentrate but was always frustrated due to lack of sleep or thoughts of the “mundane” (not that my wife, kids and job are mundane, they just aren’t creative acts in general) aspects of my life. However, in time, like is always the case, things eased and the first thing I missed was writing. I feel stronger now for going through that dark time and more dedicated than ever to succeeding as a writer as a result.
As for a support system…well, those “mundane” things, in the end, are it. My wife especially, being a writer as well, who understands the struggles and frustrations, is superb support.
On computers…Save often, put a note on your monitor that says that. Having a flash drive that backs up your work constantly or setting an auto-save function (if one is available for the software being used) can be life savers.
Jami, you are one formidable mind! I hope your time in the dark cave of revision is nearing an end and yet think that the dark forces that live therein have met their match :)

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Jami Gold March 16, 2011 at 1:56 am

Hi Gene,

LOL! “Met their match,” eh? Let’s hope those computer demons learned not to mess with me. *looking around for wood to knock in…just in case* :)

Yes, life in general can be overwhelming sometimes. I like to think that our lives have seasons, and that just because we’re too busy to do something now doesn’t mean we should say goodbye to the idea of ever doing it. Seasons change and we’ll have the opportunity to re-prioritize soon enough. (*cough* Of course, this same attitude keeps me from hiring someone to do all those house projects I know I could do, if only I had the time. :) ) Thanks for the comment!

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Kerry Meacham March 16, 2011 at 4:27 am

I tend to work/work/work/crash…..work/work/work/crash. I’ve noticed this, and I’m trying to pace myself so I am consistently working on my WIP, rather than trying to do a NaNoWriMo 24/7/365.

BTW, do you know anyone that hasn’t had a computer crash at some point with 5+ hours since a save? ;-)

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Jami Gold March 16, 2011 at 7:56 am

Hi Kerry,

LOL! True. Most of my computer issues have been along the lines of the entire computer stopped working again, and I lost everything that was on it. So my paranoia has usually been on the macro scale, making sure I have full backups, running RAID, etc. This file corruption was a new one, and more of a micro level than I’m used to, so you know I’ll add that to my paranoid list. :) Thanks for the comment!

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Tamara LeBlanc March 16, 2011 at 6:34 am

Ugg, computers. Yep, I have a love/hate relationship with the little suckers too. About 6yrs ago I lost an entire…let me repeat that, AN ENTIRE novel.
Um, yep, I had no back up. I was new to the world of laptop novel writing. Before that all my work was written out long hand on about a bazillion legal pads.
So I totally feel your pain.
I’m sorry you had those issues. It stinks to lose work that you put your heart and soul into. But I’m glad you had the fortitude to re-write. Way to go.
Let’s see, what would make me quit…
I’m not sure. I’ve gotten plenty of rejections, lost work, hated my work, was stumped by my work…
I suppose if those things haven’t made me quit so far, then I won’t.
Like you, I have a rockin’ support system, husband, family, CPs. So I think I’m in this for the long haul:)
Thanks for sharing!!
Have a productive day!
Tamara

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Jami Gold March 16, 2011 at 8:04 am

Hi Tamara,

A whole novel? Ouch. That hurts just to think about, much less have to deal with. I’m glad you’re still with us!

One other thing that keeps me going, which I haven’t seen anyone comment on yet, is the writing community. I love how we support each other on blogs and on Twitter. Even though I’ve had to ban myself from Twitter while in the deadline cave, I still get tweets from people checking up on how I’m doing. *waves to PW* I love that. It’s such a small thing that means a lot. And here, everyone’s sympathy for my computer issues has been so kind. Love you all! :) Thanks for the comment!

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PW Creighton March 16, 2011 at 9:23 am

There are so many times I’ve hit the point in a work where I just wonder ‘why do I bother’ with that apathetic outlook. I’m naturally stubborn so I usually bury myself in a project and hammer through until it’s complete despite the countless miserable computer problems, missing notes, ruthless editors and gatekeeper agents. In truth, I don’t think writers have it in them to ‘give up.’ More like ‘tear it apart and analyze.’
As writers we are overburdened with tasks for getting our thoughts from point A to point B. No matter the obstacles that pop up we always push forward and quite often use those challenges to better our work despite our attitudes at the time.

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Jami Gold March 16, 2011 at 9:29 am

Hi PW!

Were your ears burning? (I mentioned you in the comment above. :) )

Oh yes, stubbornness has a lot to do with it, and luckily I have that in abundance. :) I’ve heard the idea before: If you can give up writing, you probably should. This profession isn’t for the faint-of-heart. The successful writers are those who will stick with it, no matter what. Thanks for the comment! (and your Twitter support :) )

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Wendy Sparrow March 16, 2011 at 11:25 am

Exactly… if you can give up writing… you probably should, because otherwise it’s out to steal your sanity one shred at a time.

I swear every writer at some point wants and wishes they could give up. Things like this… technical failure are almost easier to deal with, even if it sucks and crushes you, because it’s not personal. Rejections and even waiting really get to me. Those feel like a personal commentary on my worth.

I have a great support group and wonderful online friends, but what really gets me back on my feet and writing is the fact that it defines me and I don’t know how to be me without it anymore. It’s not healthy… but no one ever said writers were a healthy and sane bunch.

I’m sorry you had such a miserable thing happen… revisions are hard enough without that crap. *hugs*

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Jami Gold March 16, 2011 at 11:39 am

Hi Wendy,

Thanks! And yes, you’re right that the personal stuff can be more difficult to deal with. But like you, I can’t imagine not writing. So I’ll stubbornly continue forever. :) Thanks for the comment!

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Cheryl Reifsnyder April 4, 2011 at 7:24 am

Belated congrats for hanging in there. Yep, I’ve definitely faced those black moments when I realize that my writing sucks and I’ll never get anywhere…it helps to remember that I’ve hit those moments before and later changed my mind.

As for what helps–sometimes I just need a good night’s sleep. Sometimes I need to recharge by reading or taking a hike; sometimes I just need to let myself play with a story until I remember that (doh!) I write because I LOVE it. Mostly :).

I hope you’re back onto the writing you love now!

Cheryl

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Jami Gold April 4, 2011 at 8:08 am

Hi Cheryl,

Good reminder that sometimes we just need to recharge. And yes, I spent this past weekend brainstorming and outlining a whole new series – one of my favorite parts. :) Thanks for the comment!

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Amanda April 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

Exhaustion and lack of patience sometimes pushes me to consider scrapping the work and starting over. But then I think of all…those…hours. It’s enough to keep me going.

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Jami Gold April 21, 2011 at 10:55 am

Hi Amanda,

Yes, “losing” all those hours isn’t fun to think about. I can relate to that with some of my work as well – I’m stubborn enough to keep rewriting it until I fix the problems. :) And no matter what, you won’t lose everything you’ve learned. Thanks for the comment!

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