Quitting. Not a popular word when it comes to motivational quotes. Those of us who are driven achievers often end up overwhelmed, burned out, living in a blanket fort afraid to leave the house. Why? Because we’ve ALL heard that winners never quit and quitters never win.
Which is complete and utter bull sprinkles.
Since we don’t want to be “quitters” we keep going even when we shouldn’t.
So, want to know the secret to success? Quitting. Yes, you read correctly. And, if you’re a creative professional or entrepreneur, it is in your best interests to learn to get really good at quitting.
Maybe you’ve felt like a loser or a failure, that your dream to make a living with your art/idea was a fool’s errand. We have to be careful. Never giving up might keep us from ever succeeding.
Ignore the motivational fluff and understand…
Winners Quit All the Time
I posit this thought; if we ever hope to achieve anything remarkable, we must learn to quit. In fact, I’ll take this another step. I venture to say that most aspiring writers will not succeed simply because they aren’t skilled at quitting.
One reason we might not recognize that quitting is our wisest option is because we lack discernment. It’s easy to get trapped in all-or-nothing thinking. If we defy family in pursuit of our dream and something stops working properly—out of pride—often we’ll persist even when the very thing we’re attempting is the largest reason we will fail.
We keep reworking that first novel over and over. We keep querying the first novel and won’t move on until we get an agent. We keep writing in the same genre even though it might not be the best fit for our voice.
We keep marketing the first self-published book and don’t move forward and keep writing more books and better books.
For the entrepreneurs (and being a creative professional falls under entrepreneurship), we can start throwing good money after bad. We started with an idea and, instead of hot-washing our results and being brutally honest? We (mistakenly) believe more money will fix a flawed plan.
Hint: It won’t.
If you are tangled in a book that isn’t working, never ends, keeps getting rejected, ask for help. Sometimes the story (plot) is there only we can’t see it. We’re too vested and emotionally blinded.
***This is why I do plot consulting 😉
Strategic Quitting & Failure Insurance
I like to say, “Persistence looks a lot like stupid.”
The act of never giving up is noble, but never giving up on the wrong things is a formula to fail.
We have to learn to detect the difference between quitting a tactic and quitting a dream.
If I’m trying to climb Mt. Everest, but I’m repeatedly failing at climbing the one side, which is a sheer rock face with no way to get a footing, then it is suicide to keep trying the same thing. If, however, I regroup, hike back to the bottom (hire some experts, a.k.a. sherpas), and take another way up the mountain, I am a quitter…but I am NOT a failure.
In fact, in order to “win” I must “quit.”
Learn to Quit from the Best
Most of us are lousy at knowing how and when to quit. This is one of the reasons it is a good idea to surround ourselves with successful people, because successful people are expert quitters.
***Even if “surrounding” means following on social media, reading their books, listening to podcasts, etc.
Read any book from super successful people from all different backgrounds and in all different fields and one thing stands out. These folks learned then adopted some mad quitting skills
Just read Daymond John’s The Power of Broke, mega-blogger Jenny Lawson’s memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, bazillionaire Mark Cuban’s How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It You Can Do It, comedian Kevin Hart’s memoir I Can’t Make This Up and you’ll see what I am talking about.
This list is filled with men, women, entertainers, entrepreneurs, and business tycoons yet they all began small and experimented. With time and experience they learned when quitting was the only way to make it to the next level.
For instance, if business mogul and Shark Tank celebrity Daymond John had kept his ‘taxi’ business we might never have even heard of him.
Good Business versus a Good Start
For those who don’t know, Daymond John got his start with a small scale fashion business (that we now know as FUBU) that he ran out of a large van. Being business savvy, though, Daymond John got as much bang for the buck with that van as possible.
So, when he wasn’t delivering and selling fashion, he made additional money shuttling people from their bus stops to their doorsteps for a small fee.
NYC, however, caught on—namely from all the complaints from taxi companies—and the city started ticketing him to the point that the great idea was a no-go.
Again, fabulous concept—OBVIOUSLY since Uber eventually came along and did the EXACT same thing. But for Daymond John, it was a fabulous concept that could only work short-term to get him to the next level on a totally different playing field.
For him it was a means to an end not the end (as was the eventually the case for Uber).
As for ME…
When I started out, I had all the wrong mentors. I had writer pals who quit writing when it was boring or who quit querying after a handful of rejections. They quit attending critique because they got their feelings hurt when people didn’t rave their book was the best thing since kitten calendars.
All this wrong kind of quitting is easy to fall into.
Excuses are free, but they cost us everything.
My Life Changed When I Changed the Quitters in My Company
For me, I stalked people I admired on social media. I read a lot of books, memoirs, self-help, business books from people I admired.
I had to change my thinking and, to do this, I had to immerse myself with people who had what I wanted. It was crucial to adopt their thinking, attitudes, and, ideally, benefit from their wisdom.
A good example of savvy quitting? I turned in a hundred page proposal for Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World in the winter of 2011 to a premiere agent, a DREAM agent. But, after NYC passing on it for over a year? I thanked my agent for his efforts, then went ahead and published it myself.
Yes, I self-published Rise of the Machines in 2012. Wasn’t in my plans, and yet….
My book remains a top social media branding resource because I chose to focus on humans and not technology. Technology changes, people don’t.
When we understand what people like, hate, what makes them loyal, why they bond or flee, then it doesn’t matter whether we are using Instagram, SnapChat or any other platform. Because we know what makes our potential audience/fans/customers excited, we have an edge.
We need to always be moving forward, and sometimes pressing on requires letting go.
We can’t grab hold of the new if we are hanging on to the old. If I’d remained entrenched in my old circle of peers, that book would have never seen the light of day.
And sure, letting go of a NYC deal sucked. What author doesn’t want a contract with major house? It was heartbreaking for me to walk away from the ‘hope’ that maybe NY would one day see the value of my book.
Yet? It had to happen.
The NYC plan was a a no-go and it came time to do something different. I wasn’t quitting my dream (publishing an evergreen social media guide), I simply was quitting my approach.
If something isn’t working QUIT. Move on!
If we have to defend and justify what we are doing there’s something wrong.
Everything is Our Enemy
It’s hard to know when to quit. I’m a loyal person. I’m loyal to a fault and I struggle every day with this lesson. But I’ve recently come to a conclusion. People who reach their dreams don’t get there by doing EVERYTHING. Everything is dead weight. Everything will keep us from focusing. Everything gets us distracted.
Everything is the enemy.
Sometimes we need to let go of inefficiencies or false trails, and if we don’t let go, then failure is just a matter of time.
We Actually Need More Quitting
Quit your day job. Today. This moment. Now, by quitting, I don’t mean you should throw your laptop in a waste can and take a bat to that copy machine that’s eaten every presentation you’ve tried to photocopy since the day you were hired….though that might be fun.
No, I mean mentally QUIT, then hire yourself to the dream.
Screw aspiring. Aspiring is for the amateurs and wannabes. It takes guts to be an author.
It takes guts to be any kind of creative professional. Hire yourself to the job you dream about. TODAY.
No aspiring writers, only pre-published writers. If you want to be a professional author, you must quit to win. The day job is no longer the ends, but rather the means. The day job is just venture capital funding the successful art-making business…YOU.
You are a pre-published author…who happens to also be a stay-at-home-mom, a computer programmer, a salesperson, a whatever.
Learn to Quit Being “Everything”
Again, Everything is the enemy. Friends and family will want you to keep being the maid and the taxi and the babysitter and the buddy who can spend all day shoe-shopping.
Many of us will try to keep being Everything to everyone and we’ll just try to “fit in” writing, but that is the lie that will kill the dream. We can’t be Everything!
A new quote I have etched in my brain is:
I can be respected or popular. I can’t be both.
We must learn when to quit and to be firm in quitting. Others have the right to be disappointed, but they’ll get over it. And, if they really love us they will get over it quickly and be happy for our resolve to reach our dreams.
If they don’t? They’re dead weight and it’s better to cull them out of our life sooner than later.
Yes, this is hard stuff. Reaching our dreams is simple, but it will never be easy ;).
I LOVE HEARING from YOU!
So what are some of your quitting stories? Did it work? Were you better off? Tell us your quit to win story! Do you need help sticking to your guns? Hey, your family doesn’t get you, but we do! Do you have a problem and you don’t know if you should stick or quit? Put it in the comments section and let us play armchair psychiatrist!
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.
***All classes come with a free recording.
THANK YOU SO MUCH for your enthusiastic support! Y’all ROCK! I LOVE HEARING From YOU!
Comments, questions? Are you tired of being told you need to be on every social site all the time? Do you just want to get back to writing STORIES? Does the idea of promotion and ads make you hyperventilate?
What are your thoughts?
JANUARY/FEBRUARY/MARCH’S AWESOMENESS (CLASSES)
The Business of Writing
Taught by Kristen Lamb on Saturday, February 2nd 1-3 PM EST ($55)
Pitch Perfect: How to Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS
Taught by Kristen Lamb on Thursday, February 7th, 7-9 PM EST ($55)
Shift Your Shifter Romance into HIGH Gear
Taught by USA Today BSA Cait Reynolds February 8th, 7-9 PM EST ($55)
Blurb Writing Blows (But Doesn’t Have To)
Taught by USA Today BSA Cait Reynolds February 15th, 7-9 PM EST ($45)
World-Building for Fantasy
Taught by USA Today BSA Cait Reynolds February 22nd, 7-10 PM EST ($99)
Story Master: From Dream to Done
Taught by Kristen Lamb, February 28th, 7-9 PM EST ($55/$349 GOLD)
Social Schizophrenia: Building a Brand Without Losing Your Mind
Too many voices telling ALL THE THINGS! AHHHHHHHH! Taught by Kristen Lamb, Thursday, February 21st, 7-9 PM EST ($55 General Admission/ $195 GOLD)
Yes, I will be teaching about Instagram in this class.
A Ripple in Time: Mastering Non-Linear Plotting: ON DEMAND
Taught by Kristen Lamb, $55
Fiction ADDICTION: The Secret Ingredient to the Books Readers CRAVE
Taught by Kristen Lamb, Saturday, March 2nd 1-3 PM EST $55
SALES: For Those Who’d Rather Be Stabbed in the Face
Taught by Kristen Lamb, Thursday, March 7th 7-9 PM EST $65
The Business of Writing
Taught by Kristen Lamb on Thursday, March 7th 7-9 PM EST ($55)
Timely post and so true! Thanks for reminding all of us to take stock and always revise our approach!
These were some fresh thoughts/insights on quitting that I’ve never considered. I’m a real hard-headed type who finds it very difficult to quit. Thank you for this post.
After doing NaNoWriMo last year I was seized with delirious visions of perpetual insane productivity. But that would have burned me out in no time. I quit writing – for a couple of months, while I recharged and focused on other areas of my life – and am now raring to get back into rewrites come February 1st.
Oh this spoke to me! First, I quit a short story at the start of 2019 that had been plaguing me for far too long. It went from 5k to 18k back down to 3k and I could never get it right. So I finally ditched it. Like really ditched it. I deleted all the drafts so I wasn’t tempted to go back too. Quitting the right way is so smart!
I have saved this article to my desktop and intend to read it daily until I finally self-publish the book that I finished over a year ago. I find myself unable to tell others “no,” then I get angry with myself (and sometimes them, too) for not saying it.
I love this line, “Excuses are free, but they cost us everything.” Great post, thanks 🙂
To quit or not to quit? Yep, that is the question. I wish I knew the answer. 🙂
So true. I was in a Spanish class once and the professor was not only very strict but hard to understand (she was later diagnosed with a brain tumor). I was flunking, but caught all kinds of hell for quitting that class nevertheless. I continued to read and study entirely on my own and a couple years later got a job as an interpreter/translator, which I continued to do for the next 25 years.