I was just trying to find an article I had bookmarked and saw that one of my bookmarks is called “The Scoop on Our Poop.” Ah, the joys of dog ownership!
I was looking for this blog post by Chuck Wendig. What I liked about it was the distinction he makes between failing and quitting.
“…you learn from failure. Failure is an instruction manual written in scar tissue. Failure is illuminating! School teaches us that failure is badwrongbad, but life is a constantstream of failures. Personal failures, relationship failures, business failures, creative failures. And in each one we learn something on how to move on, improve…Failure is how we course correct. Quitting? Quitting is just you rolling over and showing your pink belly. It’s soft. It’s lazy. You illuminate almost nothing with quitting — it’s you taking your flashlight and throwing it against the wall.”
“…quitting has value, when it carries you away from a thing that’s just pissing all over your potential satisfaction with life. But if you think there’s any shot at all, any chance you really want to do this and see this through, then fuck it. Hunker down. Grit your teeth. Carve words into the flesh of the page. And finish your shit.”
It’s an important distinction. You don’t get things right the first time.(Except for that one time when I screwed up some psychology doctoral student’s experiment by getting like 18 hits in a first-person shooter game on the first try. Made it a little hard to show that my performance improved when he did whatever he was supposed to do. Oops…)
You try, you fail, you try again, you fail again, you keep doing it.
Failure is progress. Quitting is quitting.
And, as he points out, nothing wrong with quitting if it’s because you figured out that you don’t like what you’re trying to do.
The problem is when you decide to quit just because something is hard.
Life is hard. Most things worth having in life are not going to be easy to get.
Which isn’t to say that you can’t take a break every once in a while. Pausing, resting, or regrouping is not quitting.
Which is why I wanted to link to another great post. This one from PCW: Not-Writing
I couldn’t find one great quote from it (so just read the whole thing). But the point is that sometimes you have to stop writing to be able to work through a writing issue. And that it’s okay if that happens.
Just don’t stop forever. That’d be quitting. Better to finish something and have it be crap than to never finish anything at all.