How do you know when to walk away from a writing project?
It’s natural to want to see something to the end. But sometimes an ending doesn’t emerge the way we’ve imagined it. Sometimes we have to learn when to throw in the proverbial towel and move on.
In my case, I had been ghost-writing as a style journalist for a fashion website for about 4 years. Landing the role was incredibly exciting, probably the closest I would ever get to being a part of the fashion industry. I was grateful for the chance to hone my writing skills in this dramatic context.
Time, however, has a funny way of eroding things. Each assignment began to feel like the last and adjectives were being reused. It felt like I was writing the same piece over and over again. The world of fashion eventually lost its dynamic allure for me.
It gradually felt like my post-secondary days, pulling all-nighters to finish essays at the last minute. My initial excitement was replaced by a sense of dread with yet another assignment and deadline. Balancing the role with a full-time job, there wasn’t much free time, although it was more about a lack of challenge and passion than stress. I wondered
“Why am I still doing this if I’m not fully enjoying it anymore?”
I knew then that it was time to move on. I feared the negative feelings which replaced my enthusiasm for fashion writing would spread to my love for writing overall. After all, writing should lift you up, not drag you down. Occasionally it sucks and causes us to question our own intelligence, but writing should ultimately bring us joy.
I also firmly believe that everything we do contributes to our individual growth. If the challenge is gone and you are no longer learning, it’s time to move on. Sometimes we need to walk away from a writing project to find another, one with new challenges and fresh opportunities. It’s not giving up, but rather taking the chance to find something new to develop our skills. And after that, the sky’s the limit.
Lauren Nguyen graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Sociology. After writing as a style journalist for 4 years, she decided it was time to look for a new adventure. When not pursuing new interests or battling writer’s block, she works as an administrator in the energy sector. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta.