Know When to Quit – Alice J. Wisler

Have you ever equated your writing projects to a line of pots on a simmering stove? The more you looked at this stove, the more you realized that the one good meal you envisioned to spring from those pots has not happened. Sure, you may have a satisfying dish, but there are so many others left unattended, burning, because you simply have too much going on.

With a family to support, I decided I needed to pump up my resume and get a few more writing gigs. The job I landed was not at all like I thought it’d be. In fact, it was a far cry from the online description. On day four, as I waded through poorly-written content from so-called writers (my job was to proofread and not rewrite), and tried to navigate the company’s system of unfamiliar operation, I was nudged by the voice of reason – that entity that I let speak every so often. “Is this really what you want to spend your time doing as a writer?”

A piece of paper on my desk, one that had been hidden under a folder for some time, suddenly came into view. On it was a list of the goals I’d set some time ago.

I grasped that list with both hands. As I read through it, I realized I had lost some of my perseverance. I stepped away from my computer and set out on a long walk, which ended up being a therapy session. What was life-giving to me? My writing history revolved around reaching out to fellow-bereaved parents and writing inspirational fiction. Those needed to be my priorities. Just because other writers were doing a lot of proofreading, ghost writing, and editing to make a living did not mean that was for me.

Over the next week I used my time to design another online writing course for those suffering from loss. I also developed a synopsis for a new novel and sent it to a publisher. Since my contracted book on grief was nearly ready to be published, I crafted a letter to send to local women’s groups and grief organizations with topics I would be able to address as a speaker at their meetings. And I vowed to stay focused on my goals and not cloud them with things that I didn’t really want to do.

Sometimes people would rather stay in a rut than take the energy and time to get out of one. Yet as writers, we might be hindering our creativity if we continue in work that leaves us fretting. So, go on a long walk; have a therapy session.

And, oh, the proofreading job that got me thinking? Both the manager and I agreed it was not for me. I hate to be a quitter, but in this case, quitting was just what propelled me in the right direction.

Alice J. Wisler keeps her goals on a large card (one she can read even without her glasses) taped over her desk so that she doesn’t lose her focus. She’s the author of five novels: RAIN SONG, HOW SWEET IT IS, HATTERAS GIRL, A WEDDING INVITATION and STILL LIFE IN SHADOWS. Her devotional GETTING OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache, was inspired by her son Daniel who died in 1997 from cancer treatments. Alice teaches grief writing workshops both online and at conferences. Read more: