Four Steps Away From The Cliff

I recently had the privilege of guest posting for the lovely, talented, and funny Sarah E. Boucher on the topic of quit days. Since I’m not able to reblog directly, she’s allowed me to paste the post onto my own blog. Click here to see the original post and on her name to head to her blog, which I highly recommend because awesome content.

And now, the post!

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First, I want to thank Sarah for allowing me to use her space to espouse my mostly nonsensical banter. When she messaged me a list of suggestions for a topic, one (or a combination of two, rather) stood out to me: what do I do on those days I want to throw my laptop off a balcony and/or jump off a cliff?

And this is where the post ends, because neither of those things has happened to me.

*sobs into tin of chocolate I’m currently binge eating*

crying

Of course I have those days. Everyone who has created anything in the history of ever has those days. 

I call them quit days.

Quit days are the magical combination of non-productivity and irrationality. They somehow blur any kind of accomplishment you’ve had and rub your face in the mess of criticism, poor sales, or general lack of “the groove.” Quit days make taking a janitorial night shift position at Costco appealing.  I bet it’s easy to see and measure success there.

don't give up1
My most recent quit day lasted three days, when usually they are closer to a literal day.  Those other days could be the result of a bad night’s sleep or bad nutrition or…you know, hormones. On those days, everything I write sucks and my social media presence sucks and no one cares what I do and…somebody call the whambulance!

whambulance1I make light of these days because they aren’t rational and may not be connected to any concrete event. I’m not talking about those days when you get a tough critique or an editing letter or yet another agent rejection. These are real things that happen and you legit feel crappy about them. But more often than not (at least for me), after a brief period of self-deprecating malaise, I launch back into the task at hand with a renewed sense of purpose.

But what if there are more to quit days than single events or a bad mood?

Back to my three-day quit day marathon. It was spawned by a combination of factors that on their own wouldn’t have bothered me for long. But by the end of the first day I felt pelted in the face by rocks. Big rocks. With points and jags that pelted me with their pointy jags. By the end of day three, I finally did the things I’m about to tell you, the things I knew help me cope with quit days.

Step 1: Step away

You gotta gain some perspective, and that’s tough to do when you’re swimming in the problem. Go for a walk. Take the significant other or your bestie out to dinner. Netflix binge. Anything that’s not a writerly thing, at least for an evening.

Step 2: Indulge a little

There’s a reason I said “tin of chocolate” at the beginning of the post. Find a guilty pleasure and tap into it. Quit days aren’t forever, so you need not feel guilty. Get a few endorphins moving.

Step 3: Do something active

Exercise is also great at getting endorphins moving, and if you hate it you’ll be distracted from your quit day. You’ll be looking for the cliff to launch yourself from, but it will be for a different reason.

Step 4: Talk to a trusted friend

I started here on my three-day experience, and I should have done it on day 1. We both have labeled these days “quit days,” so he speaks my language and told me to do steps 1-3 after he let me vent for a while. Your friend won’t judge you for your quit day because everyone has them.

So I hope when quit days come knocking, you’ll see them as annoying yet temporary elements of your creative life.

 

23 thoughts on “Four Steps Away From The Cliff

  1. I really do love this post! So relatable! Am I allowed a quit year? Because I can feel one of those coming on…no wait, it’s just the end of the school year when life is crazy and I can’t tell which end is up. I’m sure my writerly days will come back as soon as all the kindergarten deadlines have passed. Thanks again, sweets!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes I experience “quit days” as a response to POSITIVE feedback. It feels so random, but the urge to flee is primal. I have come to understand and accept that it is temporary but HOO-BOY it can be sooo tempting to say “I’m DONE!” (not just with writing)…

    Liked by 1 person

      • Really? Am I the only one who manages to twist positive feedback into “pressure to perform”? Ha. But seriously, for art in all of its forms, I think “quit days” are part of the process. I remind myself of this every time I am gripped with panic… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Good ideas on how to deal with a quit. I have actually quit myself on a novel I was writing and I hadn’t realised. I honestly just stop writing it as other things were getting more in the way so had to be dealt with. Now those “other things” are my every day so I think I should try a little switcheroo and bring back the novel….!
    As for eating chocolate. I need NO excuse 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes you just have to dive back in and start writing again, too. Maybe not exactly where you left off – maybe not even on the same PROJECT you were working on originally. I’ve found that writing begets writing begets more writing… and a mood can change in a single, perfect sentence.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Excellent point. I personally don’t enjoy writing (not that I can only write when I enjoy it) on quit days, but I can definitely see how it would pull one out of a funk. Absolutely.

      Thanks for reading and for the great comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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