A little over a year ago, for the first time in seven years, I thought: “I want to quit.” I knew even as I thought it that I wouldn’t. I wanted to, but I would never let myself. Still, thinking “I want to quit” was a strange thing for me. I had gone through hard times in my writing before, of course – some really hard times that I thought would never end – but I’d never reached a point that felt quite so defeating. I didn’t want to keep trying.
I’m fine now, if you’re worrying. In fact, I’m quite happy these days, so why am I sharing this now? Because I want any other writers and artists out there (and people in general, when you get down to it) to know that this happens to me – that it happens to everyone. I want you to know and understand and believe that there are low, dark places that we sometimes slide into, and that’s okay. Sometimes we run and jump, sometimes we slip, sometimes we can’t get out, and sometimes it’s where we want to be. Sometimes cool, quiet places are where we need to be to heal; sometimes it feels like drowning.
Writers are told to get on social media. We’re told to network and build platforms. We’re told to be personable but not overly personal. We’re told to keep things positive and fun. We’re told to share the good news and pretend the bad news never happens. And from a sales standpoint, this is all good advice. From a human standpoint, it can be dangerous. It’s easy to get online and follow writers and authors and assume that what we see is all there is. It looks like everyone is flitting around, cheerfully dogged, living lives full of success and releases and acceptances and news.
Please don’t let that be a thing that pulls you down. I promise you, we’re all struggling. If someone’s genuinely not struggling, they probably aren’t trying that hard. For those of us who live this and care deeply and want great things, the rejections can be heartbreaking. The failures feel permanent. The risks seem too ferocious, and the options too few.
It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to embrace the struggle. It’s okay to step away for a while. It’s okay to acknowledge that this is one hard-ass road we’ve chosen, we artists, and that sometimes it’s overwhelming. I believe that. I allow myself to feel every step of this journey, and I try not to run from it. So when I think something like, “I want to quit,” I don’t pretend it never crossed my mind. I acknowledge it, I give myself a break, and I reach out to someone who cares about me for encouragement or support or just simple understanding. We all sink into those dark, low places, but we’re never truly alone unless we want to be.
But we must always come back to the important things. Low and dark is not forever. You have pulled yourself out before, and you can pull yourself out again. Don’t stay in too long. If you need help, there are people who will help you. Please, please ask for it.
Even in the midst of my lowest point as a writer, there was a certain peace that came with knowing I’d get through it. That’s the thing about people who’ve been through a lot. We’ve survived the unthinkable, and we know we can survive it again, coming out the other side not just stronger, but softer and brighter and more sensitive in all the best ways.
I was right; I did survive it. You can too. And you will.Share this: