Maybe It's Time to Give Up

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Cristian Bortes

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Cristian Bortes

I’m a voracious reader and easily go through about two books a week. I recently finished a Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth and it’s a really excellent book, though I’d like to expand on her ideas today.

Though I loved the book, there’s one assertion she makes that I completely disagree with. Over all the studies conducted, she claims that one can never have too much grit. That those who are not seeing the success they want aren’t exhibiting enough tenacity…which is true, but then again?


I think many of us have plenty of grit, we just have them with the wrong things. Successful people “give up” all the time. In fact, today we will talk about what we need to give up in order to gain.

We Need to Give Up On People

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This has been a brutal lesson I keep getting over and over, probably because I love people, love serving and helping. I really don’t like giving up on people. Far too many times I have held onto relationships to my own detriment. It’s why I loved this meme, particularly this line:

Life is not a group project.

Guess what? Our writing journey isn’t either. When I wrote my first novel, I thought it was perfect mainly because I was a newbie and a moron. I joined a writing group and quickly discovered how little I really knew. I worked and worked until my pages where the cleanest but then something strange happened.

Originally I had a slew of fellow writer friends. But week after week their writing didn’t improve. I was still nailing them for the same sloppiness. They refused to read craft books or go to conferences. Many would show week after week and yet they didn’t write anything. So I figured it was a failure in leadership so I killed myself to become president.

And I did.

Attendance only got worse. Many argued with the experts I brought in. A large portion of the group never showed with more writing on the WIP but trust me, they did plenty of writing…usually in the form of hate mail telling me everything I was doing wrong.

The more successful I became, the more skilled I grew, the more resentment I encountered. But still I persisted because I couldn’t give up on my “friends.” I tried harder, gave more….and was a mess.

I haven’t seen a single member of that group in five years. The reason? There’s a truth to the saying, “It’s lonely at the top.” The only successful writer birthed from that original writing group?


And I had to leave it to accomplish anything remarkable. If I’d stayed I would have withered on the vine.

The strange truth is they weren’t the problem.

I was.

The analogy that helped me the most was when I learned to think of my writing journey as climbing Mount Everest. In the beginning, climbers have huge teams of sherpas to get them to the base camp. At each new level of altitude, the party gets smaller and smaller and smaller and only a handful of people ever make it to the top. That isn’t a “bad” thing, it is just how climbing works. The teams of sherpas were never intended to summit.

I was trying to make my writing group into something it wasn’t. They were only meant to get me to base camp. They introduced me to the world of being a professional. They cleaned up my prose, but they didn’t have the skill set to offer me what I wanted. I was looking in the wrong place.

Of course they resented me. I was dragging them up the mountain! This was vexing them and wearing me out. All of us were miserable.

Few things can damage our success like hanging out with the wrong people.

Sometimes there is nothing per se wrong with the people around us except they have different goals. If my goal is to become an Olympic swimmer, then going to the gym and taking a water aerobics class is just a dumb plan that will never get me to the level I want.

I have no idea what your dreams are. Not every writer has the goal of becoming a legend. Some people just like to hang out and drink coffee and dabble. And truthfully? Nothing wrong with that…unless that doesn’t align with our goal.

We cannot become professionals while keeping the company of amateurs.

And I know some people probably winced at that, but hear me out. An amateur is not someone who is merely new. An amateur is a mindset. Amateurs know everything. They can’t take criticism. They believe in BS and glitter instead of good old fashioned hard work. Amateurs complain, procrastinate and blame everything and everyone but themselves.

Amateur: Well, NY is just publishing junk.

Professional: I need to write another book. A better book.

We Need to Give Up on Magical Thinking

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The problem with amateurs is they have magical thinking. Hey, I have been there so I am not judging. Magical thinking is believing our first draft/novel is perfect. It is believing if it isn’t perfect (or worse, if it is a total disaster) that we aren’t talented.

Magical thinking keeps us from moving on. So many writers keep editing and reworking that first novel instead of moving on. They are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic instead of appreciating that there’s a seriously steep learning curve to excellence. They are afraid to make a decision but in making no decision, that’s actually a decision.

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Magical thinking is believing there will be some perfect “time” to write when that is a myth. We have been meeting on WANATribe for sprints five days a week every week at 7:00 AM CST for the past ten months. We meet in the Main Room IM and sprint until lunch. I’ve been there virtually every day through two months of pneumonia, a dying grandmother, a dislocated knee and on and on.

Trust me, I didn’t always feel like sprinting, but I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of simply showing up.

Life is not going to stop to give us time to write and we need to give up on believing it will. Few writers have what it takes to maintain the operational tempo of a professional. I believe most of them fall behind simply because they are holding onto a magical belief that time can be found.

If I could only find the time.

Time is not laying around in the couch cushions like loose change. Professionals make time, we don’t “find” it which is probably why the initially large WANATribe sprinting group is down to about five people.

The Power of Giving Up—Are You On the Right Mountain?

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It’s hard to admit when we’ve latched onto the wrong people, goals, projects or dreams but failure is an amazing teacher. It’s foolish to keep chasing a mistake just because we’ve spent a lot of time (or money) making it.

We only have so much emotional bandwidth and if we don’t let go of bad relationships, there’s no room for good ones. If we don’t let go of the bad book (the learning curve) we never get to writing the next book, the better book. If we are in the wrong writing group, there’s no time for the right one.

Grit is one of the most valuable ingredients of success, but we always need to be asking the hard questions. If my goal is to climb Mount Everest and I realize I am actually ON Mount Shasta, then I’m not even on the correct continent! Sure I might summit, but…

It’s the wrong damn mountain.

And just so you guys know, you likely will always struggle with this. Right now I am having to cut loose family members I’ve always “been there” for because they insist on making dumb decisions. I can either rescue them (again) or realize my goals. I can’t do both and me thinking I can is…magical thinking 😉 . I have to go through my goals again and make sure they still “fit”.

What are your thoughts? Is it time for you to give up? Maybe you have a bunch of drama queens in the family and you are rescuing instead of writing? Maybe some toxic friendships? Do you fall into magical thinking? That you will “find time”? What do you commit to “give up” today? By the way, feel free to join us at WANATribe for sprints! And you want a new level? Check out the classes I have coming up!

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of AUGUST, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

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All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.

Upcoming Classes

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I am here to help with that 😉 .

Hooking the Reader—Your First Five Pages August 12th

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This class will help you understand how to create solid story problems (even those writing literary fiction) and then give you the skills to layer conflict internally and externally.

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This is a personal workshop to make sure you have a clear story problem. And, if you don’t? I’ll help you create one and tell the story you want to tell. This is done by phone/virtual classroom and by appointment. Expect to block off at least a couple hours.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook



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  1. Intriguing article, Kristen. Really made me think about relationships writers have with other people, and how they affect the writing.

  2. Hi Kristen, remember me with the back problems that wouldn’t let me sit up straight or stand or do anything except lie in bed. Well, I finished my 8th novel this week, and that is in spite of my husband dying unexpectedly earlier this year, my best friend dying 4 weeks to the day a month later, crippling depression on top of the disability. I did it. I think I deserve a “true grit” award. Look for it later this year. I am hoping the edits will be done by December.

    Smiles to you, Nancy

    1. GO YOU! *happy dance* *waves pom poms* SO PROUD OF YOU! (((HUGS)))

      1. Thank you. me, proud of me, too!

          • angelaackerman1 on August 5, 2016 at 11:32 am
          • Reply

          Good for you Nancy–you absolutely do deserve that award. Very sorry for what you’ve gone though.

          Kristen, very thought provoking as usual. I like how you post about things that really need to be discussed yet rarely are.

          1. LOL, first of all thank you very much for both the left and the compliment. Next there might actually been a war cry of Segovia because there is a province in Spain with that name and a castle to go with it so you are in good company all the way around.

    2. Wow! Well done!

      1. Thank you

    3. Wow. I think I need to make a note of this and wave it at myself every time I think life is perhaps getting a bit too over-the-top for me to keep up with the writing.
      Now that I think of it, “Se-go-vi-aaaa!” would make quite a good battle-cry as one charges into the melee of draft pages.

      1. LOL, first of all thank you very much for both the left and the compliment. Next there might actually been a war cry of Segovia because there is a province in Spain with that name and a castle to go with it so you are in good company all the way around.

        1. That should be a laugh not left stupid darn voice recorder

  3. Oooo, tough love. I like it. I’ve had to make the same decision this past year with a critique group I’d been in for years. I’ve dedicated more time to working with the board of a big writer’s group, because many of the members are professional writers, which is where I aspire to be (even with one book traditionally published, due to the experience, I don’t think I qualify…yet). I’m guilty of crying about time, then sitting on the couch watching yet another re-run of CSI. I love your graphics, especially the squirrel. Thanks for the hard shake. Glad I booked the writer’s retreat I’m going to next week.

    1. I’ve made an excuse for myself that if I’m spending hours watching Columbo, it’s because I’m doing RESEARCH for my own crime novel. Unfortunately, that excuse is wearing thin, because I don’t even have a first draft!

  4. Thanks for the kick in the butt, Kristen. 🙂

    • annerallen on August 5, 2016 at 11:22 am
    • Reply

    I LOVE this post, Kristen. I’ve lived through this so many times, in a number of different professions. I’m working on a post in a similar vein. But you said one thing I hadn’t thought of. “It’s okay to give up if you’re climbing the wrong mountain!” Brilliant! And yes, we have to let go of people along the way. Otherwise we’ll end up playing bit parts in their movies instead of starring in our own.

  5. Not always the born family. Sometimes it’s the ‘made’ family we want to help, since we forged that relationship with, we thought, eyes wide open. And now I’m wanting to climb that ‘True Grit’ mountain.

    • Karen on August 5, 2016 at 11:27 am
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen,

    Just a quickie to say I enjoy reading your blogs, this one included. Thanks for them.

  6. Reblogged this on West Coast Review.

  7. Still wrestling with what should be my “proper” goals, but I am not opposed to quitting things that are wrong for my life. It’s tough to admit the starry-eyed dream I had when I jumped on this professional writer trail might not be the right one for me. SO I finished a different kind of novel this week – no YA, no magic, no quests, no fantasy – just three women working through the different stages of grief over losing their mother/grandmother.
    Will it ever be published? I will polish it into the best story I can. So my gritty writing persona says yes.
    Thanks for telling us the truth. Even when it’s hard to hear (and even harder to accept).

  8. This is a really great post. The writing life requires a lot of hard choices. More than I expected when I started.

  9. Thanks for helping me drop the guilty feelings about dropping people who fancy themselves writers but either don’t actually write or find only excuses for drafting crap that they would rather argue about than improve. I paid an excellent coach to help me finally bang out a good first draft, after years of trying but knowing that the thing was crap. Then I spent a jillion hours editing it with a sharp, cold eye, drowning many of my favorite metaphorical kittens in the process. Then I sent it to a genuine, carefully-chosen professional editor – not a table-waiting English MA – and accepted just about all of his suggestions. Now agents are beginning to sit up and take notice. The whole process has cost years, and enough money to replace my 17-year-old VW with one from the showroom floor, but James N. Frey nailed it for me the first time I read, in “How to Write a Damn Good Novel II,” Chapter 8, subsection 6, “You cannot soar with the eagles if you’re wasting your precious time gaggling with the geese. Do you want to be a writer or don’t you?” It may sound egotistical, but as you and Frey point out, you don’t win a race by trotting along with your friends, gossiping and giggling and smelling the flowers.

  10. Nail on the head, as usual, Kristen. I used to be the role-model of all amateurs. Then I received a really great reality check from a more experienced writer two years ago, but I still fall into the trap of magical thinking- particularly when it comes to writing my original works.

    But I was writing fanfiction for a particular fandom after the Reality Check, and looking for some really good feedback. Unfortunately, so many of the stories I read were written so badly. I tried to leave the kind of feedback I would have been pleased to receive- polite, but honest. However, I was usually told that 1)- If I didn’t like it, I could read something else, 2)- I didn’t understand the story and 3)- Plenty of other people liked it, so they wouldn’t change anything. Just for context, these were stories were the autho(s)r would randomly change tense in the middle of a chapter, stories with shallow characterization, lack of depth, run-on sentences etc. I now realize I’d wasted loads of time that could have been spent with 1)- other writers and 2)- my OWN freaking work!


  11. As I was reading, I was thinking, yeah, sometimes the road you’re on means that you even have to give up the people who you care most about especially when they don’t understand your commitment to writing. My husband and I parted because writing meant more to me than, well, listening to him whine about having to work as a truck driver while I was becoming a better writer.

    Failure, to me, is like going down the wrong road. A while back I was going down the highway and there was a “Y” in the highway and I took the wrong road. When I realized that I took a wrong turn, I turned around and went back to the right road. I didn’t beat myself up about it. I just did what I needed to do to get on the right road and continued toward my planned destination.

  12. The family member thing is where it becomes super hard to near impossible. But some people are either toxic or they have toxic times and there’s no point in sticking your head in a tub of acid all the time.

  13. This is an incredible post!

  14. Definitely related with this and learned some stuff. Maybe I’m at a move on place in some areas but still need help in others. It is hard to share when you have some success and others don’t.

  15. Eerie. Your article is perfectly timed. I’ve recently been reaching out to other writers on FB who share similar goals with me. Thank you for putting many of the feelings I’ve been struggling with into words. I don’t want to ditch old friends, but I want to surround myself with people who are on a similar path.

  16. All of your blog posts seem so relevant to me personally. It’s almost like you’re in my head! (You’re not a mind reader are you? 😉 ) Anyway, I just had to leave a writer’s group that I’d been part of for years for several reasons, one of which was that I wanted to move on to a professional level of production and the majority of the group was still in the amateur mentality.
    What really frustrated me was that I have published four books on Amazon to mostly positive reviews and I learned many valuable lessons in the process, yet very few members in my group were interested in my experiences.Probably because many of them were still working on the first chapter of the next great American novel. I got so tired of repeating myself about how they needed to finish the first draft rather than stall on the first chapter. No one ever seemed to take my advice, so I wondered why I bothered to give it.

  17. I loved this post. Not only for those of us who are in writers groups, those of us who have had to put good boundaries around family members and for friendships. Its actually same mindset as today I posted about friendships. 🙂

  18. Reblogged this on Mystery and Romance and commented:
    Don’t be the #flatsquirrel

  19. Thank you!

  20. Definitely been in danger of being a flat squirrel more than once on the journey… It’s important to keep moving!

  21. Wow, this is a wonderful post. I can certainly relate to this! I’ve hung onto to toxic friendships so many times, to my detriment, but then they finally end whether I wanted them to or not. My 10th book comes out in Nov. and the more successful I become, the fewer friends I have. Ha! I always thought it would be just the opposite. But it’s okay. I feel like I understand it better now, and this post helps too. Thanks, Kristen, for speaking truth!

  22. Reblogged this on Nancy Segovia and commented:
    True grit in all areas of your life

    • R.C. Thompson on August 5, 2016 at 1:10 pm
    • Reply

    Good post. We must sail our own ship without dragging anchors. Magical thinking is everywhere dead weight. Extend that idea of rejecting magical thinking to ideology, fandom and religion if you want fewer boots on your neck. I won’t waste grit fighting or worshiping windmills.

  23. In glad you’re still sprinting! I’m writing most every day, but I’m SO not a morning person. So with the difference in time zone and the fact that I normally start working on my WIP at 10 pm, I haven’t been showing up in the chat rooms. (Also, for me personally, chatting is a huge distraction from writing. I’m more productive when I can just go for it.) I’ll stop in and say hi some morning, though.

    In other news, I’m going to my first writer’s conference next week! Whoot! So excited!

    • N.E. Montgomery on August 5, 2016 at 2:07 pm
    • Reply

    This was awesome, and is so true. I had to make the tough decision a little over a year ago, not to apply for a position at my day job that I’d been working toward for a decade.

    A lot of people at work thought of it as me giving up, but I pulled my application, because I realized that if I got it, I’d never finish my books. I’d give too much to that job, and would effectively have to put writing to bed. A lot of people are still unhappy with me for *not* applying especially because the person we hired isn’t working out very well. But I don’t see it as giving up” – – I see it as making the choice to put my writing first.

    This article rocked…

  24. I went to a panel at Balticon this year, where they discussed finding the right writing group. They talked about exactly what you had at the start: a novice’s-support-group–where it was more about the social and emotional support and less about the craft. Perfectly fine for what it is, but not what’s going to take you to the next level.

    Last year, I switched jobs, leaving the company that had hired me after college. At the same time, my long-term relationship ended and I moved.

    Since then, I’ve learned so much and grown in so many new ways.

    Change is scary, but sometimes it’s just time to take that step.

  25. Good advice and as usual inspiring me to act.

  26. Very true. It is hard to find writers groups that are not full of amateurs and there comes a time when you have to realize you’re in this to write… not organize wannabes. When you find a group where the members are writing so much each week that they are talking plot and character instead of passive voice versus “was” clauses, please let me know. I’m looking for such a group. I also agree that you have to make your bets and stick with them for a while at least. Then you can theoretically make a different decision and stick with that. But wobbling and hesitating isn’t helpful. Flat squirrels is a good image. 😀

  27. I loved this post! Very poignant! I’m in the exact situation right now – climbing the wrong mountain. I’m supposed to be starting a PhD this fall which I believe is not the right mountain. Your points about this make so much sense!

    I also agree that it is bad being in the company of amateurs. Do you know of some writing groups? Because I’m looking for one.

    Thanks for sharing this post today!

  28. “Life is not going to stop to give us time to write, and we need to give up on believing it will.”

    I’m starting to absorb this bit by bit, and I think this post may just be the kick in the pants I need.

    You. Are. Awesome.

  29. I was actually on the other side of this. I had a sick child, and not the kind antibiotics and a few days home can cure. I had to make time for treatments etc. and part of that was reducing (not giving up) my writing and revising time. It meant my revision went much slower than I would have liked, bit I did finish it. First revisions are always tough for me because of the large amounts of rewriting.

    Now that things are getting back on track, I am starting a new project while I let the other sit for a few weeks to give myself some distance and objectivity before starting the next revision.

    It is hard, though, to make that decision. Career development for the “day job” is also a choice, and regularly appears much more viable than writing. Two completely separate mountains.

    • Sweetgrass on August 5, 2016 at 4:31 pm
    • Reply

    I’ve been reading your blog a while and never felt inspired to write a comment on a post until this one — because you really nailed it. Spoke out loud the hard lessons I’ve learned over 12, no, 14 years of climbing Mt. Shasta – aka the first novel and its sequel – which I’ve queried three times over 5 years with successively improved rates of manuscript requests, but no sale. (and self published somewhere in between)n Time to MOVE ON. I’ve also been through two or three different critique groups with people who never revise anything.

    I used to think grit was about sticking it out with that novel. It took years to learn that real grit is sucking it up to go back and start over — using what I’ve learned by failing — to write a better book.

    It took me this long to figure out that failing isn’t about writing a mediocre first book. It’s about not using every iota of that painful experience to build my powers until I get somewhere. Possibly world domination, but I’d settle for a book that I could feel proud to see on a shelf.

    Thanks for putting into words the exact experience I’ve been having.

    1. I did the same thing. I worked and reworked my first novel for five years because I didn’t want to “give up.” But if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have had three best-selling non-fiction and WAY better fiction.

      So go you! And feel free to sprint with us Monday 😀

  30. Powerful stuff here – thanks so much for sharing!

  31. Tough post, but full of truth. Great lessons here.

  32. This is an excellent post. I found myself reading parts of it out loud because it’s just so good and too true. It’s so good that my boyfriend started looking over my shoulder to see what I was quoting.

  33. Letting go is kind for both parties. And no one goes to jail for killing the other.

    • ratherearnestpainter on August 5, 2016 at 8:41 pm
    • Reply

    I’ve recently joined WANATribe. I see y’all sprinting in the morning as In of to work. I’ve been thinking of an evening sprint group. I haven’t seen one. Maybe I can encourage people to jump on board.

    I worked retail for half my life and I should have given up at the age of 15. But, hindsight is 20/20.

    I’ve had to cut lose some friends along the way. I’m certain that some friends and family have had to cut loose of me. With good reason. But this

      • ratherearnestpainter on August 5, 2016 at 8:54 pm
      • Reply

      I need to give up trying to fix this duplicate post that was a victim of ejaculatio praecox, so to speak.

    • ratherearnestpainter on August 5, 2016 at 8:42 pm
    • Reply

    I’ve recently joined WANATribe. I see y’all sprinting in the morning as In of to work. I’ve been thinking of an evening sprint group. I haven’t seen one. Maybe I can encourage people to jump on board.

    I worked retail for half my life and I should have given up at the age of 15. But, hindsight is 20/20.

    I’ve had to cut lose some friends along the way. I’m certain that some friends and family have had to cut loose of me. With good reason. Bu, this is my journey; they have their own.

    Thank you for encouraging me.

    1. I just don’t have the bandwidth for running morning and evening or I would totally help.

        • ratherearnestpainter on August 7, 2016 at 7:40 am
        • Reply

        Once I get my life together (about midweek next week) I’ll work in earnest on getting that going. No sense in starting something if I can’t participate for the first few days.

        1. Well, I’m in no rush. I’m travelling and at a writer’s conference most of the week, so I probably won’t be able to join until next week, anyway…

    2. I could participate in an evening group sometimes. It would depend on the timing. I’m on MST and I write late even for my time zone.

        • ratherearnestpainter on August 7, 2016 at 7:42 am
        • Reply

        Wow. I’m CST, so late for you would be an hour later for me, and later for you would be bedtime for me. But, I’m certain we can make it work.

  34. I bailed on writing message boards for the same reasons, plus a few more–though I have to disagree on one point I don’t think it was you were the problem (or me). I always found the problem was the culture of the beginner. Writing is the only place where someone who is clearly an expert by the number of books they’ve published and the years they’ve been writing can be told they are clueless and don’t know what they’re talking about; meanwhile, an unpublished writer passing around junk gets a cheerleading squad and everyone praises him for being an expert.

    1. True.

  35. I would love to re-post this on my site:, You were echoing my own thoughts so many times. I always felt guilty when I found that some friends just didn’t fit into my life anymore. But your post explains it so well. The writing group is very relatable. Thank you.,

  36. The timing on on this was perfect. I’ve reposted this on my own blog –

    My take on it was a little different, though there are definitely things I’ve cut out of my life for writing and in other areas. I think it’s a very healthy approach to recognize some things are just not helping you move in the direction you want to go–both in life and within a story.

  37. True!

  38. You are so real and funny. I recently started my blog/website because of you-I thought I should let you know! And I’ve been debating about some friendships that suck the life out of me…still working through it all though: common sense says let go, but my emotions mess they with me. – anyhow, reading this kind of stuff helps.

    1. Awwww. AWESOME! I’m so glad I inspired you. Keep me posted on your progress .

    • Greg Jenkins on August 6, 2016 at 7:56 am
    • Reply

    WOW! This blog could not have come at a more appropriate time. Much of what you say applies to every aspect of life not just writing. I was meant to read this today. Thank you!
    Greg Jenkins

  39. Oh so true. And writing workshops are the perfect example of that– anyone who hasn’t seen themselves outgrow a group is probably one of the comfortable amateurs who get outgrown. For those of us who have seen it, it’s the perfect metaphor for how people (and goals) don’t keep fitting with us as we evolve.

    “Quitting” has a nasty reputation, that’s actually based on magical thinking: that your first goal and your first plan for it *must of course* be the right one (the right mountain), and that changing your plans is giving up on everything. Nope.

    I think the core of it is a refined Serenity Prayer: we change what’s worth the effort to change, not what isn’t, and we need the wisdom to choose our battles.

    (Without re-choosing *too* often and ending up as flat squirrels 🙂 )

  40. I, too, needed to hear this right now. I’ve been pushing away toxic people and focussing on my writing. My problem–and I’m not unique–is I write the novels, sell or self-publish, start to market and when the first few reviewers don’t respond to my request for reviews, I give up. Ironically, marketing is my background. ::sigh::

  41. Reblogged this on Gina X. Grant and commented:
    I needed this now. Maybe you do, too.

  42. Hallelujah! Well said Kristen. Thank you!

  43. Kristen—This was a wake-up call for me and I thank you for it because I often struggle with the “time” thing and yet I manage to veg-out on plenty of NetFlix! I am attending a five-day writer’s conference in two weeks and I am very excited about my first-ever venture into the writing world. I have started four books but can’t seem to keep the momentum…? The first quote you offered is very appropriate as well as the reference to squirrels! Thank you for the warm-fuzzy slap in the face! DWD

  44. I like your overarching theme in this article. It’s more than just knowing when to give up on relationships, it’s knowing when to give up on a particular avenue or strategy and try something new. There are so many different outlets for writing. Maybe your style fits somewhere else and you’ll have better success if you change course or change your definition of success. Expectations are everything.

  45. Great post Kristen! I have lost/dropped couple of friends in recent years and after reading this, I feel.even better about it LOL. Thanks! Andrea

  46. I am printing out that flat squirrel meme and hanging it in my studio!

    • Cathy Gillispie on August 7, 2016 at 1:23 pm
    • Reply

    My writer group is a bunch of old guys talking memoirs and crazy erotic adventures. I go for the entertainment! My editor buddy is complaining about the same mistakes in my writing and I am not growing (as you say). So, you’re post makes me think branching out is a good idea to get better at my writing. Thanks for the extra push!

      • ratherearnestpainter on August 7, 2016 at 1:53 pm
      • Reply

      Maybe you could keep going to this group, just as fodder for writing. Writing ABOUT their personalities.

  47. Excellent post and insight as always, Kristen. Thank you for the reminder to always keep moving forward and upward, even if it’s not the popular or expected thing to do.

  48. Ouch! But not giving up. Still learning, still writing, and still intending to get to my top. Thanks for the reminder to get the right map.

  49. Kristen, I’m a fan. And I always enjoy your honesty. But while I agree it’s good to know when to give up on a novel or a story and move on to the next, I think advising writers to give up on writer friends when you become more proficient or more successful is exactly what makes me wary of befriending writers. Sure, I’ve had “friends” who have moved on when they became “successful” but I always thought that was kind of superficial and a little obnoxious. The writers I really admire are the ones who keep their friends regardless of whether they’re published or not. It’s not like needing a tennis partner who can play at your level. Some of the workshops I’ve been in or taught have benefited most from having writers at different levels who can share their talents.

    Sure, other people can drag you down. But that’s usually because they’re unkind, or too critical, or unreliable or toxic in some way. They demand too much and give too little. Outgrowing a writers group happens all the time. And yes, life/writing aren’t group projects. But writers aren’t hot house flowers – isn’t it a little bit of that magical thinking to believe they can only grow in special conditions?

    1. It depends on what you are wanting FROM your writers’ group. I keep company with writers of all levels. The sprints on WANATribe has unpubbed newbies and multi-pubbed pros. It is the “attitude” that is professional. But I don’t look to brand new writers to challenge my skill level. Like the tennis analogy. If you just like tennis then hanging out playing with friends is fine. If however you are wanting to make money playing competitively, you will have to play with those as good and preferably better. You will likely still play tennis with friends but you won’t rely on them to make you a better player. And it is wrong to keep playing with them then resent the lack of challenge.

      My split with my writing group had less to do with a difference in skill level and more to do with animosity and undermining. It became emotionally toxic and that can happen in groups all the time.

    • Newt Johnson on August 7, 2016 at 5:56 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, you write such kick-ass posts. I love them. Your honesty isn’t cruel, but it’s solid and to the point, which is much needed these days. Thanks for this, from all us flat squirrels out here working to re-inflate and try again!

  50. hmmm… there’s a good lesson in here for me. I’m guilty of hoping to find time for writing – but I have come to the same conclusion as you, I need to make the time. I consider this a kick up the rear end for me. Thanks Kristin 🙂

  51. Wowsie wow, but is this ever the shake-up, butt kick, teeth-rattling, wake-up call this particular scribbler needed. And bonus, it’s Monday morning, so fresh start of another writing week.

    I do indeed need all these reminders now and again–definitely, honestly, really now. Tough love and head-on wisdom at it’s finest. <3 you Kristen!

  52. I’m new to your blog and very much enjoy it. In response to “Maybe it’s time to give up” I realized how fortunate I am with my writers’ critique group. I’ve been with the same people through my first novel (Growing Up Ugly) and am now working on the second (A House on Sand). My group is supportive, insightful, and has helped improve my writing. And I’m not the only one. In this group we are all growing as writers.
    Fritzie von Jessen

    • Victoria Marie Lees on August 9, 2016 at 1:04 pm
    • Reply

    I love the flat squirrel quote as well. Lots of great tips and info here. Thank you all so much. I agree that what we do and whom we hang out with influence us and our work greatly. Our lives are made up of experiences and relationships. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with your followers.

  53. This is ridiculously timely. Thanks.

  54. I love this post. I always enjoy your writing. I’m struggling connecting with other writers and I’m to the point of traversing this new world alone. I found a good writing coach and I’m sticking with her. I appreciate the encouragement.

    1. Come over to WANATribe. We meet every morning in the Main Room for writing sprints. Monday through Friday 8:00 am CST and we have been going strong with these sprints for almost a year. WANATribe has well over a two thousand writers. So hop in.

      1. Ok, I’ll check it out. Thank you!

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