When Quitting a Project is Necessary

Sunday, May 31, 2015
Sometimes, a change in perspective can make a world of difference.
A few days ago, our Friday Speak Out blogger wrote a post about coming to terms with letting go of a writing project or novel. I did a double take when I first saw the title of the piece, “Letting Go,” because I could completely relate. For the past year, I’ve battled conflicting feelings about an editorial contract position I held with a local magazine.

Without getting into all the details, over the course of three years, the advertising revenue for the magazine sank to an all-time low, and each issue found me scrambling to fill holes with relevant local content, much of which I had to write myself. I was only paid a set amount each issue, regardless of how much extra copy I had to proof and write. I also never received an increase in pay. Even though the magazine was only produced every other month, which theoretically should have given me plenty of time to work on other projects, I would find myself so mentally exhausted after each issue that I couldn’t write creatively for weeks. The novels I’ve been trying to get ready for submission have languished on my hard drive, leaving me unhappier than ever.

I’ve always heard the advice from other freelancers that if you find yourself working with a client that is keeping you from being your most productive and causing you emotional and financial distress, you should find a replacement gig and move on. For the past year, I’ve known I should do just that, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Why? I guess part of it was the lure of those six paychecks each year. I also didn’t want to break out of my comfort zone and routine, as taxing as it had become.

A few weeks ago, I came to a crossroads. After getting ready to put together the next issue of the magazine, I was told that the revenue was too low for us to print. The articles I had hired out would not be published, nor would any of the content I had already put together. But the magazine still hadn’t made the final decision whether or not to cease publishing altogether.

After several days, I knew I had to resign from my position, as disheartening as it was. The stress became too much to bear, and I had lost all my enthusiasm for the job I once loved. In many cases, I believe we need to walk away from something before we can flourish. I wallowed for about a week, but now I’m moving on. I’m excited about the chance to flesh out several article and essay ideas I’ve had brewing for awhile, and my novels are finally going to get the revision they need and deserve.

Have you ever found yourself having to walk away from a freelance assignment or contract? I’d love to hear about your experiences and how you handled them.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer, mother of two children, and Blog Tour Manager for WOW! Women on Writing. Visit her website at www.finishedpages.com.


Sioux Roslawski said...

I never had to back out of a contract/assignment because I've never had one. But it sounds like you made the wisest decision and the best decision for yourself.

Congratulations, Renee, on getting rid of some excess baggage. Now get to work on what you're passionate about.

Margo Dill said...

This is the HARDEST thing. Trust me! I run into this with some of my contractual work for educational writing companies. I am not sure if I am slow or if the work doesn't pay as well as I thought it would originally or what. :) I think some of us are taught to stick things out because it will be a good opportunity or we made a commitment, etc, but sometimes, the right thing to do is to let go. :) Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Pretty much what Margo said--:-)

It's tough when a project is no longer working for whatever reason and the time comes to walk away. But that's the only way you can go forward, Renee.

Walk on, Renee, and enjoy your next steps!

Renee Roberson said...

Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement! I think if it had been a salaried position it would have been much harder to walk away. Now, I am excited about the chance for new opportunities!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Such a familiar story. I worked with an educational company who hired an editor with no publishing or education experience. We writers had to teach him the ropes and every deadline coincided with a holiday (I've never figured that part out). First one writer quit. Then another. He tried to add their work to what I had contracted to write and I flat out said no. After we finished, he asked me to take on another assignment. I turned it down. It is never an easy decision to make even when it is essential.

Renee Roberson said...

Oh, yes, Sue, you nailed it. When clients start adding work without any additional pay you have to take a stand. I didn't do it soon enough, unfortunately!

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