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Guest Blogger-Lisa Fellinger

Hello there my lovelies! This week we're hosting guest blogger Lisa Fellinger! Some of you may remember her from way back in February 2023, when she was our first-ever guest blogger. Check out her last post Finding the Courage to Share Your Writing and find some more incredible advice this week for how to give yourself permission to quit.


She's an incredibly talented author and editor, and I found her tips for new and struggling writers insightful and inspiring so I hope you do too.


About Lisa:

Lisa is a professionally trained developmental editor and book coach whose passion is helping women writers become published authors by building up their writing skills and confidence as writers. Her debut women’s fiction novel, The Serendipity of Catastrophe, will be released in March of 2024.


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Thanks for reading my lovelies! I hope you enjoy Lisa's advice as much as do, and I'll be back next week!


XOXO

-Rose Rayne Rivers

 

Author: Lisa Fellinger

Title: To Get Past a Writing Rough Patch, Give Yourself Permission to Quit



Writing a novel is hard. It takes so much effort to create a storyline that works, characters that feel believable and relatable, and finding just the right words to convey the emotions and descriptions and actions. We spend countless hours reviewing our stories, figuring out what’s not working, and then figuring out how to fix those things. We’re constantly reading about writing and taking workshops and trading words with critique partners to improve our craft. It’s a lot.


But many times, the hardest part about writing a novel isn’t actually anything to do with the mechanics of writing that story. It’s a mental battle. It takes diligence to create a writing schedule and routine that works for you, and then a great deal of dedication to stick to it and keep showing up to add more words. It takes faith to stick with a process that often might feel like it’s leading nowhere or is taking far longer than we’d like. It takes confidence to show up to our writing desks day after day trusting in the process when we might be taking time away from something else to sneak in our writing time.


From my own experience and my work with my book coaching clients, I can attest that more often than not, when writers fall into a rough patch, it’s usually not about the actual words in their manuscripts. We hear writers lamenting that their story isn’t working, their “voice” isn’t right, or they hate their writing, but these are just surface issues. When I hear writers complaining about these things (or catch myself saying them), I urge them to dig deeper and explore what feelings are coming up for them as they say them.


A lot of times, the emotions behind these frustrations look a lot like self-doubt, insecurity, fear (both of failure and success), or vulnerability. Writing takes a lot of time and energy, and there’s really no good way to measure if we’re “successful” at it in the short-term. Publishing deals and/or five-star reviews can take years to come to fruition, and this is after the months or years the writer spent actually writing the story in the first place. Not to mention the manuscript(s) that might be shoved in a drawer somewhere, the practice stories many of us have that will never see the light of day again but helped us become the writers we are now. 


Writing and the process of publishing usually involves a good deal of rejection before success. Writers are told this is a normal part of the process and to just keep writing, keep moving forward, but it makes sense that in the face of so much rejection or uncertainty, now and then writers will experience rough patches and wonder why they’re even doing this in the first place. It’s normal for this to lead to phases of doubting our abilities as a writer and wondering if we’re wasting our time. It’s normal to fear putting our dreams out there and being rejected, and it’s also normal to fear what might happen if we succeed and our book is actually published. 


I’ve felt this struggle before, and I know I’m not the only writer who has. The voices in your head become louder and louder, and one day you’re wondering why you’re even bothering. You feel like everything you write is garbage, your stories aren’t selling, and all that time and energy you put into writing about imaginary people could be better spent with the real people in your life that you care about. After all, your kids would love some extra play time, your husband would love a quiet date night without having to help you work through a plot point, and your mom would be tickled if you answered the phone for her once in a while. Writing just starts to feel so pointless, and you can’t believe you ever thought this was fun in the first place.


What do I do when these feelings hit? I give myself permission to quit. 


No, you didn’t read that wrong. A lot of times, my frustrations with writing are small enough that I’m able to simply push through, come back to my “why,” and keep going. But sometimes, those frustrations are heavy enough that they seem to outweigh my why. The positives that writing brings to my life don’t feel strong enough to overcome the fact that I feel like my writing is terrible, that my time invested in writing my novel is wasted, or the fear I have over failing at my dream of being a writer. 


And at those times, I take a step back and tell myself it’s okay if I want to quit. No one is forcing me to do this. If I want to walk away, that’s okay. I don’t have to decide anything in that moment, but I have options that I can consider. And if I decide I no longer want to write, that’s okay. Maybe there’s something else that would fulfill me. Or maybe not. But if writing is no longer enjoyable to me, then it’s okay to say I no longer want to spend my time doing it. I don’t throw my manuscript in the incinerator or purge my computer of all my files, but I do give myself the permission to consider the option of quitting. 


Why do I do this? Because telling myself I have to keep writing when I’m frustrated only serves to further frustrate me. If I feel like writing is something I’m being forced to do, it’s hard to see what I’m gaining from it. If I’m feeling pressured to keep going even when I’m discouraged, it only keeps me feeling stuck. It keeps me focused on all the reasons this is hard and why I don’t want to do it.


But if I allow myself to contemplate the option of quitting, it gets me out of the mindset of focusing on the negative. Suddenly, my mind clears out a bit and I start considering the good things about writing that I’d miss if I were to quit. When I take the pressure off and remember that while no one is forcing me to do this, it’s a goal that means a lot to me and something I very much want to keep working towards, it now feels less like a chore and more like a challenging goal that I’ve chosen to spend my time chasing. 


Typically, I’m back to my keyboard with a clear mind in a day or two using this approach. It might take a little longer for someone else, but the mindset shift that comes from giving yourself permission to quit if you want to really does work to clear out the negative thoughts you’re having about your writing and lets you refocus on all the reasons you love writing and all the reasons you don’t, truly, want to give up. I’d encourage you to try it if you’re going through a rough patch now, or keep this in mind for down the line when you might be, and I hope it helps you remember all the reasons you love writing and gets you back to plugging alone on that beautiful story you’re telling.





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