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Knowing When Quit

When a series of bad things happens, it is difficult to focus on writing projects. I devolve into crazy thoughts of worthlessness. You out there who can relate are probably high achieving, goal-oriented people like me. You likely ask the same first question as I do: What am I doing this for?

In his book: "The Dip" Seth Godin says, "The Dip is the long stretch between beginner's luck and real accomplishment." Successful people don't just get through the dip, they lean into it.

But when is it a dip and when is, as he labels it, a cul-de-sac, a situation where you work and work and never get anywhere?

Or, as he calls it, a cliff? We've all been there at some point, that project, job, where things go smooth until the realization that you must find an escape and quick.

There have been a few minor cliffs in my life lately. While not necessarily desirable, they have heightened my awareness of what is really important and seem to feed the writing. But are these twists part of the dip?

One possible cul-de-sac in my life has been a part-time job that brings me joy. It lends credibility to my worth as a writer but doesn't relate directly to this career as a writer. Is it worth the time with no foreseeable outcome but more of the same?

To determine the value of a project I've had to ask some tough questions:

1. Does this matter to me today?

2. Will this add value in someone else's life?

3. Do I have the skill necessary to complete this or is there something more I must learn, and am I willing to take the time to learn?

4. Am I doing more to stay in the same place or am I growing with the work of this project?

5. And the big question is: by staying with this project or job, could I be missing some other opportunity?

Getting real with myself and understanding my capacity, has allowed me to get a firm view of where I must go with work that boils to the surface. Recognizing what no longer serves my goals has been tougher to understand.

Several times a week I walk by the 4-room house I lived in as a teen with my mother and 2 brothers. The front yard I once cut with a pair of scissors is overgrown. The siding my mom had installed 40 years ago is beyond sad, chalky and grime ridden. The window air conditioner tilts as though it may fall out any time.

That house reminds me that I've come a long way. Life is full of dips, cul-de-sacs and cliffs. The writer in me says to keep going, keep moving forward. The mother in me says, don't beat yourself up, you are doing the best you can.

Weigh in here, if you'd like. Are you attempting to stay the course or should you let go of a project, a character, a plot twist. What is serving you and your writing today?

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