Quitting. Why It Works!
I’m a quitter and I’m darned proud of it, but for several years, I wasn’t. You see, my story is based on burn-out, and burn-out eventually taught me a good lesson.
I wrote for one of the New York City publishers for a long, long time. I was insanely happy to get the contracts and in the beginning, I wrote one book a year. Then, it became one every nine months. Then, two books every year. It was grueling, but I told myself I was committed. I missed most holidays, wrote through Christmas and New Years, birthdays, 4th of Julys. I rose each morning at 3:35 to write for three hours before going to work. I would pass on lunch with my co-workers and write. I would come home at 5:30 in the evening, throw something on the table for dinner and write until 9:00, shower and fall into bed. I wrote all weekend—every weekend. I had contract deadlines, and I was taught from a young age to honor my commitments. I never missed a deadline, but I missed life.
One day, I started to hurt all over. Not just a minor twinge, an all out misery. I became clinically depressed when the doctors would tell me I just had minor arthritis. They didn’t know the reason why I hurt so much in my muscles. Finally, I found a medic who diagnosed me as having fibromyalgia. In those days, no one had ever heard of it. Now, everyone knows about it. My doctor thought a lot of the problem was due to stress as well as an autoimmune disorder.
It became clear that I had to think of myself, so I finished my last book contract and walked away from the big boy publishers. It was not like I got much help from them anyway. There had been little money for advertising as well as some major distribution snafus that practically sunk my series. This was when the internet was in its infancy, so social media hadn’t even been born. I was a mid-lister lost in the pile of other mid-listers.
So, I spent the next few years editing and teaching writing, but not doing much creating on my own. I had gotten to the point that I thought I had nothing left to say. The desire to write was there, but the effort needed seemed unreasonable.
When it became obvious that I could no longer blame others for my situation, I took healing into my own hands. I began a yoga program. I started walking. I became selective about my eating habits. I read books on journaling, creativity, and writing. I began to explore Reiki. I made sure I took my meds. I tried to delete the word ‘worry’ from my vocabulary. Slowly, I began writing again. Articles, short stories, flash fiction.
A few years back the Universe answered my call for help by sending me an angel in the form of a friend. She wanted to work with me. She wanted me to teach her to write. She was a fan of my work. I had actually touched someone in all those years of labor and missed holidays.
With her help and confidence, I wrote Thomas Talks To Me, How to Create Your Own Muse. My writing life has now expanded again, but this time it’s joyful and fun. I look forward to putting words down. I see stories in everything, blog posts come to me in dreams, and my current novel leaps along like a stone across a calm lake.
I’m back because I had the courage to quit.
Are you a quitter?