The Blogging from A-Z Challenge continues today. Throughout April I’m posting about my life as a writer, including my inspirations, frustrations and celebrations.
A few of weeks ago, I decided to enter another short story competition. The theme really appealed to me and I had a promising idea for a story that might fit the brief. I was excited to start writing and see where it took me. But then life happened. My daughter got ill and my day job became more challenging than usual. I started to feel stressed and under-the-weather. I kept up with my other commitments, but writing just wasn’t happening.
A week before the deadline, I had a final push to get it done. I stayed up late each night and got up at crazy o’clock in the morning. By the end of the week I had reached the word count, but the story was nowhere near finished. It would need lots of editing to improve the structure and the voice.
I pushed myself right up to the day before the deadline. I spent very little time with my family that week and turned down dinner with my in-laws so I could stay home and write. I drank coffee and energy drinks and tried to stay awake to finish the story. I wanted so badly to get it done. But it just wasn’t coming together. I was exhausted, I was snapping at the people I loved, and I was making myself ill.
I made the decision to stop. It was hard for me, because I hate giving up. When I decide to do something, I usually move heaven and earth to make it happen. Giving up when I was so close to achieving my goal felt like a failure. But it was the right thing to do.
At the end of the day, as much as I love writing, my well-being comes first. It wasn’t possible to get the story submitted in time without either compromising my physical and mental health or submitting a sub-par, unpolished story. I wasn’t prepared to do either. As soon as I made the decision to stop trying, I felt instantly better. The weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I put it to the back of my mind and spent the rest of the weekend relaxing and having fun with my family.
And you know what? The earth kept spinning. It wasn’t the end of the world. I looked back over what I’d written later and was surprised to find a lot of promising material. Perhaps even some of my best work. I’m not going to let it go to waste. I will polish the story until it shines, then I’ll either submit it to another contest or keep it for compiling my own anthology in the future.
The message I want you to take from this is to know your limits. Sometimes you’ll be tempted to quit, but you’ll know deep down that you can keep going because you have more to give. Great! Push through. Other times, you’ll realise that the struggle just isn’t worth it. Listen to your mind and your body and don’t be ashamed of making the best decision for you.
Before you go…
Have you ever felt guilty about ‘giving up’ even though you knew you had to?
So glad you’re not tossing the piece after all that work! I end up abandoning a lot of projects – and I’ve also done major revisions like cutting out characters. Know when to stop, slow down, or push ahead is so difficult when you’re emotionally invested in something. Loved this post! ?
Have definitely felt guilty about giving up. I also feel guilty if I think something I’m writing to be posted for reader consumption is sub-par. 🙂 I keep in mind that some pushing is good but that burnout is a real thing. I don’t want to hate my craft.
Hopefully now that the pressure is off you’ll be able to finish your story so it shines and is ready for the next short story contest you pursue.
Knowing when to walk away is always the hardest thing. But I’m glad you came back to your work later and found that there were some good nuggets in there!
Operation Awesome. Our A to Z 2019 theme is the writing journey.
A valuable lesson I need to learn. Even though I’m retired, I take on too much – and blame my chronic illness for my stress. I created it.
At the moment, I’m struggling to visit all A to Z Bloggers I follow, comment, finish my posts, and everything else. But I’m now five days behind. Time to quit something – when I work out what.
I’d say focus on finishing your posts, Roland. You can always visit and comment on more blogs during the road trip.
That is a very important lesson to learn. We’ve all been there at some point 🙂
Ronel visiting from the A-Z Challenge with Music and Writing: Powerful K’s
That makes sense – although my inbox unreads just doubled overnight.