December 1st, 2017

Why Writers Need Those “Never Again” Moments

Colleen M. Story

 

Whenever I visit a pier—any pier—one of my favorite things to do is to walk along and read all the boat names.

It’s fun to see what people choose to call their watercraft, but I’ve also found that when I’m lucky, one of the names will have something special to say to me.

One year in Florida, for example, I found this one:

Notice the name: “Persistence.”

At the time, I hadn’t yet received that traditional publishing contract I so desired, and I felt like the boat was telling me something.

I posted this picture on my computer wallpaper until I finally got that contract a short time later. I still take a look at it now and then, as a reminder when my endurance is running low.

This year, I got a chance to visit a pier in the Pacific Northwest, so I took a walk, reading the boat names along the way. Miss Elaine. Stormbreaker. Judy. Griffin. Aurora. Winona.

And then, I spotted this one:

Can you see it? In case you can’t quite read the name, here’s a close-up:


It says: Never Again IX.

 When I saw that, I stopped and laughed out loud. Not just “never again,” but “never again for the ninth time.” Yeah, I could relate.

How about you?

Sometimes, a Writer Has to Imagine Letting it All Go

I was coming off a very busy time in my writing life, having just launched my first self-published non-fiction book, after traditionally publishing a novel the year before and another novel the year before that, all while maintaining a full-time freelance writing business, conducting writing workshops at various conferences, and building the readership for my website, Writing and Wellness.

You know how it goes. It had been an extremely busy three years, exciting but stressful. I’d learned a ton, but I was tired. Exhausted even. I had to take a break, so I was on vacation, and I was loving it. While I enjoyed the great weather and hiked some beautiful trails, I was thinking over everything in my professional life. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do any of it anymore—the novels, the website, the workshops.

When I thought about it, I just felt tired. Why do all this?  I wondered. Is it really getting you anywhere?

I let the idea of “never again” come into my mind. Never again will I worry about writing a novel and publishing it. Never again will I worry about getting fresh and interesting blog posts up every week. Never again will I take on the work of presenting a workshop. Never again will I spend weeks writing guest posts and running online tours and giveaways and what not to market a book. 

Instead, I could simply focus on my freelance work. I could do my assignments, and then enjoy oodles of free time. Imagine it! Once work was over, I wouldn’t have to shift gears and write some more. I could just enjoy myself. Like most people do, right?

Take more walks. Play more music. Spend more time with friends. Read. Wander.

What a concept! It was delicious, and for a while, I let myself think about it. Really think about it. I wasn’t just toying with the idea. I was actually giving myself permission:

When you get back from vacation, you don’t have to do any of it anymore if you don’t want to.

 Have you ever experienced one of those lovely sighs of relief, how the air just exits your body and your muscles unravel and you close your eyes and think, yes, that is what I’ll do?

 It feels wonderful. I highly recommend it.

 Never Again…Again

The actor Daniel Craig has been James Bond four times. After his fourth movie was released in 2015, he promised: never again. He was done.

According to The Guardian, he said he would “rather slash my wrists” than reprise the role. “We’re done,” he said. “All I want to do is move on.”

Never again.

Then in August 2017, The Guardian reported that while on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, Craig confirmed he would be playing Bond one more time in a fifth film, set to hit theaters in November 2019.

“I think this is it,” he said. “I just want to go out on a high note and I can’t wait.”

Craig may have gotten some backlash for the back and forth, but I can understand it. He admitted he was exhausted after filming Spectre, and that his ill-thought-out negative comments were made just two days after the last day of shooting.

He added that after it was over, he just needed a break. 

Don’t we all?

Thus, the fishing boat. Sitting peacefully in the pier.

Never Again IX.

Never Again is a Delicious Thought

I can’t imagine being a fisherman. The ocean is so unforgiving. I’ve been out on it only a couple times in the summertime weather and have been amazed at the strength and harshness of the winds, the unrelenting current. I can’t imagine being on it all season long. There’s a reason old-time fisherman look weathered, their skin like leather.

With what little I know, I can surely understand thinking never again. Why keep it up? Why go out there year after year, when the fish are disappearing, the regulations increasing, the income diminishing, and the way of life getting more and more difficult every year?

Sound familiar?

Why indeed? A fisherman asked himself that question, apparently nine times. And his answer was sitting there in the pier, the little white boat with the maroon accents, ready to venture forth into the unpredictable ocean waters…again.

Just as my answers are sitting on my laptop—my next novel, in progress, and my next non-fiction, in progress.

Sometimes, we just need to allow ourselves to imagine it. We could let it all go. We could choose another way of life. We could say goodbye to it all.

So soothing to picture, to feel. Without never again, we might actually quit.

Instead, it allows us to regroup, relax, and let the creative bubbles rise under the bow.

The sea is calling.

Have you had a NEVER AGAIN moment? Have you had a NEVER AGAIN 3 or 5 or 9 moment?

ABOUT COLLEEN

Colleen M. Story is the author of Overwhelmed Writer Rescue: Boost Productivity, Improve Time Management, and Replenish the Creator Within—a motivational read full of practical, personalized solutions to help writers escape the tyranny of the to-do list and nurture the genius within. Discover your unique time personality and personal motivational style, and learn how to keep self-doubt, perfectionism, and workaholism from stealing your writing time. Available at all common book retailers. (Get your free chapter here!)

Colleen is also a novelist and has worked in the creative writing industry for over twenty years. She is the founder of Writing and Wellness. For more information, please see her author website, or follow her on Twitter (@colleen_m_story).

Sources

Peter Walker and Nancy Groves, “Daniel Craig: I’d rather slash my wrists than play James Bond again,” The Guardian, October 8, 2015

Hannah Ellis-Peterson, “Daniel Craig confirms he will play James Bond again,” The Guardian, August 16, 2017

23 comments to Why Writers Need Those “Never Again” Moments

  • Honestly, I’m such a head-down workhorse, this never occurs to me. Not that I don’t take breaks – I do (burnout sucks), but I’ve never come close to the ‘never again’ ledge.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Colleen!

  • carrienichols

    Colleen, thank you! I loved your post. I have said ‘never again” after something soul crushing…like another rejection when all my writer friends were signing contracts or getting agents. Then I’d wake up the next morning thinking about the changes I could make to the ms and try again. I guess it felt nice going to bed thinking I was done beating my head against the wall. It also felt good to wake up refreshed and full of resolve. This past summer in a chat with my agent she said she admired my tenacity. But I may not have been so tenacious if I hadn’t allowed myself those never again moments.

    The tenacity finally paid off with a two-book contract and just this week a three-book contract offer.

    Thanks for this post!

  • I’ve been on the water in a small boat for months at a time and every time I do it I cringe, fight my fear, and tell myself “never again.” When back on shore I start planning the next cruise because the more I’m on the water, the more at peace with it I am. Writing is like that. In the midst of the project I’m full of angst and I tell myself I’m beating my head against the proverbial wall. Then I finish, breathe calmly for a few days, and start the next one. Thanks for a very thoughtful reflection.

    • colleen

      Pamela I’m so glad you commented—how cool to hear from someone who has experienced the same thing on the water. I can only imagine what it’s like out there for an extended period of time. I’m wondering now about the name of your boat!

  • Fae Rowen

    My husband and boats…enough said. I, too, love to cruise the harbor and look at boat names, Colleen. People are so creative and tongue-in-cheek. I’m surprised cars don’t have names painted across their bumpers! I routinely give myself permission to “just stop.” Sometimes it’s only overnight, sometimes it’s a week, but that regroup time, and the illusion that I have control, allows me to loosen up. I end up knowing that can’t stop writing, and I begin work again—under my terms, not working to some standard I’d set for myself before my “never again moment.”
    Thanks for giving voice to this.

    • colleen

      Oh man, I wish! My family has always named their cars. It would be cool to have a way (other than a license plate) to show the name. I like that—letting yourself begin again “under my terms.” Maybe that is what the “never again” moment is about—a response to feeling that things get out of control? Hmm…

  • Coincidentally, Sean Connery, also of James Bond fame, swore he’d never play Bond again, then subsequently made a Bond film called “Never Say Never Again”.

    I’ve said “never again” to dealing with people I’ve found untrustworthy or offensive, but never to something I really love doing. The trick is in not giving in to self doubt, which can be very influential.

    BTW – I will never completely give up boating, my first love, but found that for something I pour so much money into enjoying, I at least owed my wife naming it after her. The Lady Diane II is a 26 ft Nordic Tug which looks very much like the Never Again IX. Built in Seattle, it is the most comfortable, reliable, and economical boat I have ever owned.

  • I have this distinct feeling that you wrote this post especially for me. I’ve been there this year, considering the “what if I just walked away?” option. But somehow, I can’t quite do it. I’m still here, writing and believing… Maybe I should get a boat and name it Stubborn.

    Thanks for sharing that such moments are okay, perhaps even good for the long run.

    • colleen

      Ha ha ha. I can just see the name in red on your boat, Julie! Yes, I think it was like that for me. Just allowing the moment can bring on relief, instead of being afraid somehow that if you even consider such a thing, all is lost. We can consider and imagine and enjoy the space and then let the desire to write come back in again. Keep writing and believing!

    • Please don’t walk away, Julie! Your writing is beautiful, and sassy and fun.

  • Isn’t that what every parent says about a month in with a newborn. And yet many of us are drawn back time and time again. Some never agains are worth it (when I said never again to another drink it was one of the best decisions I could have made) and some are futile (surely saying never again to over eating at Christmas is just a joke) but I think all of them allow us to shrug off the negatives that are hanging over us and take a breather, even when we eventually dive back in for more.

    • colleen

      Great point! Yes, I hear that from parents all the time. :O) And love that—“allow us to shrug off the negatives that are hanging over us and take a breather…” Well said.

  • I haven’t signed a contract for publication yet, so the “Never Again” moment hasn’t come up. I’ll get back to you once I take the plunge and query. 🙂

  • My never again moment happened when I decided to retire from real world work. I was briefly tempted to return to work once, but beat that idea down with a stick. I’m much happier writing in retirement.

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