Discouraging Decisions

27 Apr

Sometimes shit happens.

Sometimes shit happens and it really sucks.

Sometimes shit happens and it sucks so much you just give up.

But other times, shit happens, it really sucks, but you grit your teeth and keep on pushing.


As some of you know, I recently received an incredibly discouraging blow (I lost a giant chunk of my first draft, and it is utterly and completely irretrievable).  Trust me when I say it sucks.

DAY 1:



DAY 2:

Wait, huh? Oh snap…yesterday sucked.  I’m going to gorge on those gummy bears, watch mindless TV, and feel really sorry for myself.

DAY 3:

I still hate my life.  ::gives sideways glance to remainder of manuscript::

DAY 4:

Okay. Life = crap, but you know what? Maybe it’s not the end of the world.  Let’s take stock of the damage and figure out what needs to be done to fix it.

DAY 5:

Yeah, that’s a lot of pages lost, but…I did it once. I can write it all again. I’M NOT GONNA GIVE UP.

DAY 6-12:

I’m taking a break from the manuscript. I’ll work on all the other crud that needs doing in my life and in my work, and I will deal with that later.

DAY 13:

My heart has mended enough that I can approach this fresh.  LET’S DO THIS.

Dealing with discouragement takes time–you need a few days or a few weeks for your heart to heal.  But there is a simple solution, and you know what that is?

Hint: it’s a decision.

It’s the decision to NOT GIVE UP.  You are deciding that ultimately, your writing or your painting or your cooking or your marathon training matters more than the crap thrown at you.

It’s the decision TO LET IT GO AND MOVE ON.  You choose to push through that stomach cramp, to take the negative critiques and learn from them, or to throw out the crappy cake and start over.

You love what you do, you have a goal, and you will do whatever it takes to reach it.  I’ll be honest–I gave up on the painting and the marathon training.  Discouragement won.

But give up on writing? Never.

Writing matters to me.  Seeing my name in bookstores matters to me.  Sharing my stories with readers really matters to me.  And as such, I will not give up because of some bump (or enormous collapsing bridge) in the road.

So here’s the deal: sometimes, shit happens and it really sucks, but because you love this–because it matters to you and you have GOALS–you are going to grit your teeth, decide it is worth the pain, and keep on pushing.**

You’re not going to give up.  And neither am I.


Have you ever dealt with something discouraging that almost made you quit?

Are you feeling discouraged now or have you recently?

**And you might also consider binge eating cheese–I swear, it works wonders for the aching soul.


42 Responses to “Discouraging Decisions”

  1. Sarah Brand April 27, 2011 at 3:34 AM #

    Ugh, I sympathize entirely. Years ago, I lost 50 pages of a novel-in-progress. I write very slowly, so it was pretty discouraging, but I ended up rewriting those pages and finishing the novel. The end result still wasn’t publishable (which was probably more discouraging than my computer crashing, actually), but without that novel, I wouldn’t have written my current project, so it was totally worth it. 🙂 So, I know what you mean on both counts: it does suck when discouraging things happen, but I can’t even imagine letting them stop me now.

    • Susan April 27, 2011 at 8:36 AM #

      Things totally happen for a reason, huh? Losing pages, writing crappy first novels, etc. 🙂 I keep trying to remember that–I can redo my lost 153 pages, and when I do, it’ll be even better!!!

  2. Alli April 27, 2011 at 3:43 AM #

    Cheesecake works for me–best of both worlds. Thank you for this wonderfully inspiring post. I think allowing ourselves to wallow is what we need at times. And making the decision we can live with is very important and only time can help us see things for what they really are. I feel the same way about writing. I will never, ever give up. I love writing too much (even though I’m writing the first draft of my WIP and I’d rather stick hot pokers in my eyes–I much prefer editing and rewrites. Yes. You can call me weird).

    And you know what? Those new pages you write might the best yet. Good luck!

    • Susan April 27, 2011 at 8:37 AM #

      Yes, Alli! Let’s hope the new pages are the best!! 😀 And I also WAY prefer revisions! They’re definitely my favorite part of the process! 😉

  3. K@ April 27, 2011 at 4:32 AM #

    I was going to try and make an analysis of this crazy madness by reworking the “Smooth Criminal” lyrics, and then I started trying to make things rhyme and gave up. You know why? WRITING MATTERS. Making jokes with Michael Jackson? MATTERS SOMETIMES.

    So just hum “You are the writer”, and you shall understand my feelings, at least.

    ALSO: Hey, you’s awesome.

    FINALLY: Writing DOES matter, and I’m so glad you remain determined in the face of such overwhelming suck shittage. Generally I respond to disappointment/discouragement by watching romantic comedies or reading romance novels. And sleep. I love sleep. If I could do cheese, I would, but you know how impossible that is for me. 😦


    *because that’s not creepy… <_<

    • Susan April 27, 2011 at 8:38 AM #

      Yes. Please teleport your belief. And just teleport yourself, so then we can pretend we’ve actually met in person instead of just being email/package pen-pals.

      And I’m glad you realize writing matters more than making jokes with MJ. Though your jokes with MJ *are* pretty awesome.

  4. Sheridan April 27, 2011 at 4:38 AM #

    The life of an artist should never be easy. I realised that not so long ago. Without all the sucky things happening, we would just end up beeing creative & we would not develop our personality.

    Right now, one of my rats is really sick (rats are for me kids from my own blood), I need to finish everything for the fashion show in less then a month, my endworks & my hats for school and I realised that I’m going to need money before I can publish my book. Which is something I don’t have.

    It all sucks.
    But now I’m fighting more then ever to get my at trought it. I’ve learned to deal with stress, deadlines & taking priorities in life and I’m looking for someone who can help me to print the book.

    Use the mind to get out of it. Artists have that power.

    • Susan April 27, 2011 at 8:39 AM #

      Anyone who doesn’t give up has the power! That one decision is–in the long run–all it takes. I’m sorry you’re facing so much suckage right now, but things’ll pick up! They always do. 🙂 (And I really hope your rat gets better!!)

  5. Lynn Rush April 27, 2011 at 8:09 AM #

    Great post. I’m so sorry about your computer trouble. I lost 87 pages of a first draft before. Totally heartbreaking. But, the decision was to push on. Recreate it. Through the tears of frustration the story came back to life. I’m glad you chose to keep on.

    Write on, my friend.

    • Susan April 27, 2011 at 8:40 AM #

      Thanks, Lynn! I shall write on, and round 2 shall be BETTER! I feel like I need some pump-me-up music now…so imagine “Eye of the Tiger” playing. 😉

  6. Dawn Brazil April 27, 2011 at 8:32 AM #

    Great Post. I lost over one hundred pages of my manuscript this past summer and I feel that I still haven’t fully recovered from it. I’ve since rewrote it, but it did take some time to do. And yes, many tears were shed. My hubby thought I was going crazy probably, but he gave me space. I’m really sorry about what happened to you Susan. I don’t wish that on anyone! But we can get back up and keep going!!! I wasn’t so much into blogging back then so I didn’t have wonderful sites like LTWF to help me through it but I had determination. And I’m totally stubborn. Thanks for the support!!!

    • Susan April 27, 2011 at 8:42 AM #

      Yay, stubborn writers unite! I have lost 153 pages, but I can DO IT AGAIN! DETERMINATION!!

      And yes, wonderful sites like LTWF and all you wonderful readers really help me get through it all! 😀

  7. Andi April 27, 2011 at 11:03 AM #

    I can’t believe this happened to you! I’m so sorry! I know it happens to the best of us.

    Last year during my first round of revisions I lost an entire chapter which was far too long at around 18 pages in Word, so a lot probably would have gotten cut anyway, BUT -for some reason after I discovered it was gone and unretrievable I couldn’t remember for the life of me what it was about, which I found to be frustrating but even more strange – because why couldn’t I remember? I was devastated. I never got to the point of felling like I would quit over it, but the overwhelming feeling of all the work it would take to get it back and have it fit into the story was such a heavy weight on my shoulders for a while. A few days went by, then I started again. I’m positive it wasn’t the same -but I’m also positive it was so much better.

    I know you can do it! And when your book is published, you’ll know that this needed to happen for it to be the best you were capable of.

    Stay positive and keep moving forward.

    • Susan April 27, 2011 at 12:50 PM #

      Yes! Thanks, Andi! I WILL stay positive, and I’m going to hold your words close: this *needed* to happen for it to be the best. 😀

  8. savannahjfoley April 27, 2011 at 11:05 AM #

    About a year ago I lost three really beautiful chapters from Shae’s perspective. It never quite came out right later but I did have to suck it up and rewrite them anyway. Then, you know, the whole sequence got cut in editing, lol. I’m so glad you’ve recovered, Sooze!

    • Susan April 27, 2011 at 12:51 PM #

      Thanks, Sav! Funny how the things we put so much effort into always wind up getting cut. 🙂 A scene I added to SS&D for my agent was cut by my editor–ha!

  9. Juni Case April 27, 2011 at 11:21 AM #

    153 pages?! I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I lost that much of my first draft but then again given enough time to cool down and approach the situation calmly, I’d probably suck it up and just work because writing is important to me too. I put my manuscript on a USB drive which fell off my keychain ring and I spent ten minutes frantically looking for it in my dorm. I thought I was going to die…thankfully I found it but that was just so scary.

    This isn’t related to writing somewhat but I sometimes get discouraged by my major: Sociology. Pretty much all my other friends are doing majors like science (bio, pre-med, nursing), engineering, or business. They’re all guaranteed to get jobs because there is an immediate vocation attached to their majors but mine isn’t like that. I get scared of how I’m going to repay my loans or if I’m doing the right thing by devoting myself to studying Sociology. But I just keep telling myself that I’m studying something that I genuinely like and am interested and things will work out in the end. I hope!

    Also good luck in re-creating your first draft! You can do it! =)

    • Susan April 27, 2011 at 12:52 PM #

      I can definitely related to feeling discouraged by majors (or jobs). But, truly, if you love it, then stick with it! You’ll wind up where you need to be. 😀

  10. Martha Ramirez April 27, 2011 at 11:33 AM #

    So sorry that happened to you.;(
    To answer your question, yes, lots of times I’ve felt like throwing in the towel but my heart doesn’t let me.
    There are A LOT of discouraging moments as a writers but you just learn to swim to land.
    Such is life, I guess.;)
    Keep on keeping on.

    • Susan April 27, 2011 at 12:53 PM #

      I think anything we choose to devote our passion to will face more discouragement than other facets of life. I mean, its *easier* to be discouraged when you’re attached, right? BUT, like you say, we just gotta keep on keeping on!!

  11. Kristy April 27, 2011 at 2:40 PM #

    I once lost the entire fourth draft of my manuscript. It was horrible. I documented my grief here: http://www.kristycolley.com/2010/07/27/the-great-sandisk-tragedy-of-2010/

    Great to find your blog!

    • Susan April 28, 2011 at 2:43 AM #

      And I’m glad you found us, Kristy!

      OI! Did you lose all drafts? Like, please tell me you had your third, second, or first draft still….otherwise, I will start crying for you!!

  12. Victoria Dixon April 27, 2011 at 4:53 PM #

    I’m sorry you lost so much work! I’ve done that and it definitely sucks. I lost a rewrite I was working on for an agent. BIT. Lost the whole drive with various pieces of work on it, in fact.

    Sending you many pieces of virtual chocolate, hugs and a huge thumbs up on your attitude!

    • Susan April 28, 2011 at 2:44 AM #

      Yay for virtual chocolates!! And thanks, Victoria! Did you manage to redo the rewrite? ACK, that must have been soooooo awful. 😦

  13. marykateleahy April 27, 2011 at 6:13 PM #

    My heart really goes out to you. That is one of my worst nightmares. But whenever horrible shit happens to me I like to envision my self on my fav. talk show (like the View or Oprah/whatever) as a bad-ass bestselling author telling everyone about the horrible thing that happened to me and having them ooh and ahh that I pushed through it. The story of whatever happened is itself a good story, which is how I like to think about it. When you become published and successful it will be all the more amazing because of the hardship. Good luck 🙂

    • Susan April 28, 2011 at 2:45 AM #

      Dude!! I LOVE THIS IDEA! I am so going to start doing this… “Yes, when I was living in Germany, I had the worst blow to my writing career yet, blahblahblah.”

      I feel better already! 🙂

  14. Jan April 28, 2011 at 12:22 AM #

    Susan-sorry about losing your pages. I use chocolate & a good book to ‘calgon’ me (takes me away). I am trying to decide whether to keep pushing on my first person detective story (slow going) or start editing my first. ( where’s my chocolate? Or cheese?
    Sending oodles of Virtual pats on your back!
    I decided to dedicate an email address to info about writing ! Keep your chin up 😉

    • Susan April 28, 2011 at 2:46 AM #

      Thanks, Jan!! I always dive for revisions since it’s my favorite step. 🙂 But if you still love the detective story (slow going or not), write it! Good luck either way!

  15. Happy April 28, 2011 at 1:05 AM #

    Oh this made me laugh- because I can soooo relate right now! But instead of accidentally losing pages, I have to cut pages, make major revisions and totally rethink my entire MS. But from the very second I realized it, I just knew that I could do it. I mean, I had NO IDEA HOW I was going to do it, and I felt completely overwhelmed, but there was no doubt in my mind that I would make it happen.

    I took a few days to let it all sink in –moped and cried a little 🙂 — and then dived right into what I needed to learn and do. Stopping is not an option. And the best part is that even when I’m annoyed or discouraged or frustrated with my project, the process of it all is STILL somehow enjoyable.
    So here’s to stubborn-ass writers and to not giving up 😉 Thanks so much, Susan- you totally inspire me.

    • Susan April 28, 2011 at 2:47 AM #

      Aw, Happy! Your comment made me smile. 🙂 But also a little sad since I feel responsible for your discouragement. 😛 BUT, I’m really REALLY glad to hear you’re not giving up and you are powering on.

      WOOT! Go stubborn-ass writers!! You can do it! ❤

  16. maybellestyle April 28, 2011 at 1:16 AM #

    Mmm that’s powerful stuff. I remember losing a chapter or two of some of my WIP and that was a crushing blow too.
    One of my greatest discouragements – I remember – was when I couldn’t make it into the music program I wanted. I was upset because I’d invested so much into that one pursuit. But when I look back, it didn’t make much difference in the long run; turns out I do love studying English, and the audition prep helped me become more disciplined and goal-driven. so it worked out fine.
    Keep up the writing and the spirit!

    • Susan April 28, 2011 at 2:50 AM #

      Wow! What a great story. I have a few like that where I learned a lot, but it didn’t work out in the end (um, marine biology for example). Yet, I still wound up precisely where I needed to be.

      Thanks Maybelle!

  17. Victoria Dixon April 28, 2011 at 10:30 AM #

    I decided the rewrite wasn’t working and to go with the opening she’d liked already, but rework other parts of the book. Not a good choice and she passed. However, I’ve just re-furbished the opening like I had tried to do before my drive died. I might resend to her. We’ll see. ;D There’s always hope!

    • Susan April 28, 2011 at 12:02 PM #

      Well gooooood luck!! (And sorry she passed, but there are plenty of agent fish in the sea! ;))

  18. Brandi April 28, 2011 at 4:37 PM #

    I’m currently discouraged as I suffer through the querying trenches. Not discouraged enough to give up, it’s more like a “wtf” feeling more than anything. I’m holding on by being patient, praying, and revisiting my query letter which is hard because I feel the last draft was my best, but then I come up with something better so… it sucks.

    I’m so glad you’ve moved past your dismaying situation. I knew you would!

    • Susan April 29, 2011 at 4:09 AM #

      Ah, yes, querying is probably the Ultimate in Discouraging Situations for Writers. Do you want to me to critique your query again? May’s Query Day is on Monday at 5 PM EST, so if you submit to that, I’ll offer you my feedback… Or did I only make you feel more “wtf” the last time I tried to help? 😛

      Good luck! YOU CAN DO IT!

  19. NeverLanding April 30, 2011 at 1:17 AM #

    I’d taken to writing ideas and settings and scenes onto the note app on my cell phone at night when I was in bed, which conveniently had only two buttons at the bottom, ‘add new’ and ‘delete all’, I still have no clue if I wrote it all down in a notebook or accidentally deleted all the notes, but there were about fifty long snippets of a half dozen stories where nothing resides now.
    I can honestly say that its been about six months or so and the thought still makes me cringe. I kind of want to start digging through all my notebooks in the hopes that I’ll chance upon it just thinking about it… Apparently, I am NOT one of those people who get over losing work well at all. 🙂

    • Susan April 30, 2011 at 11:50 AM #

      Ha! Well, I hope you find it! I don’t think anyone handles losing work well, and half a dozen stories? ACK!! ::bites nails:: I have my fingers crossed you didn’t “delete all”!

  20. Meagan Spooner April 30, 2011 at 8:10 PM #

    Your point about it being a decision–either to give up or keep going–is what grabbed me most about this post. Thinking back to my most recent dose of disappointment, I kept waiting for the magical day when it would feel better and I’d be ready to go again, and not feel like I wanted to throw everything out the window and live on a steady diet of chocolate and salt ‘n vinegar potato chips. I think I’d still be waiting if I hadn’t eventually just been like “Okay, my pessimism is annoying even ME now, time to just suck it up” and got on with things.

    Now, of course, it does feel better. But only after making the decision to carry on regardless of feeling like I was going around all day with an anvil for a hat.

    • Susan May 1, 2011 at 8:13 AM #

      Thanks for the comment, Meagan! First of all, I’m really sorry for whatever your major disappointing dose was. 😦 Second of all, yes to salt ‘n vinegar–best flavor EVER. Third, I’m glad you noticed the “decision” bit (I’m not sure if that stuck out to anyone else or not) because that’s kinda the point–the thing that distinguishes writing from just some-other-thing-we-do. I could wallow until the end of my days, but eventually, I have to make that choice to push the pain aside and power on.

      I’m glad you’re back to writing and feeling better. 🙂 Goooo team!!

  21. Madeleine May 12, 2011 at 10:29 PM #

    Uh, YES. I feel discouraged every time I *think* about my manuscript. Edits are such torture for me, but I HAVE TO DO THEM. 😛


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