A few mornings ago, I got up, plonked myself on the couch, and opened Scrivener in preparation for my daily writing session.
As soon as I saw my manuscript on the screen, I knew I would struggle to get through my average of 500 words. I was tired: the baby had been up all night, I was feeling uninspired, and I happened to be at a tricky point in my story.
But I slogged on, felt the pain of every keystroke, until I’d written the bare minimum word quota of 250. It seemed like so little, but at least I had done something.
With that thought in my head, I went to shut down my writing program. Then something strange happened–something that had been right in front of me the whole time, but I’d never taken notice.
A message popped up on my screen with three options: (1) open a document, (2) create a document, or (3) quit.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. For some reason, I have mindlessly been hitting that quit button for months, never stopping to think about what the word means.
My first reaction was, “Wait! I’m not quitting. I just need a break!”
But the button did not say “I’d like to take a break,” or “I’ll pick this up again tomorrow,” or “I just have to answer the phone.” It didn’t even say “close” or “exit” like some other programs.
It said “quit.” And suddenly, I realized I was quitting my story. I had given up, at least for the day. Possibly longer.
Do you know, I reopened that document and kept writing, and I did it because of that one word. In the end, I managed to surpass 500 words, and I was so glad I didn’t give up.
I don’t know about you, but once I get things like this in my head, I don’t forget them. At the end of every writing session, I now ask myself:
- Have I really written all I can?
- Am I quitting now because it’s getting too hard to go on with my story?
- Is there another section I can work on?
- Can I write just 50 more words?
Sometimes, it’s those tiny realizations that make us more aware of our writing habits. It’s those tiny realizations that just might help you finish your manuscript.
What mental breakthroughs have helped you continue writing when you’ve wanted to give up?
Join the discussion
Sometimes just the thought, “Do I want to continue in my day job forever?” will inspire me to to keep at it. 🙂
I agree– that’s a great motivator!
if only computer dialogue boxes were a bit more detailed “Quit Now.”, “Go to sleep already.”,
“BSOD! Scream all you like.”
I know, that would be so cool. Maybe they should say, “Come back tomorrow.”
Sorrento Aishikami says
I have got to try this one sometimes.
Unfortunetly, I am using Word and it offers no additional motivation.
What motivates me the most once I am ready to give up is the emotional connection I have with my characters.
I cannot bring myself to leave them in a middle of a difficult situation.
That would be cruel.
John Sherry says
Suzannah, I also quit but merely to walk away and give the mind an opportunity to be inspired. I take a complete break and put myself into something else, anything else from housework to shopping to exercise. Distracting myself gives ample space and time for new ideas to form and sprout and by the time I come back there is normally something new waiting for me. Being committed to ‘x’ number of words a day doesn’t mean I have to write them in one go – I’m a chunker and love little chunks here and there. Gives me a chance to enjoy life too