Caleb Schoepp

When Should I Give Up?

Published May 30, 2022

When should I give up on something and when should I see it through?

I’m asking this question after my third attempt this week at writing a blog post I’ve been thinking about writing for the past year.

The idea for the blog post seems so promising when I think about it. I’m able to imagine it in its fully finished form and I can picture the effect it would have on the reader.

But the words don’t flow when I sit down to write it. I can’t seem to thread a cohesive narrative for the reader that is engaging and educative at the same time.

This doesn’t always happen to me. Sometimes when I sit down to write a blog post the words seem to just pour out of me as if they desire to escape my head and be on the page.

This mental block isn’t unique to writing blog posts. I’ll run into it any time I’m doing something that requires creativity and isn’t just rote execution. Like when I’m building a side project and I just can’t structure the code in a way that makes sense. Or when I’m pursuing a business idea and it just seems like no one cares and I’m not actually solving a problem.

Should I always expect it to be easy? Is getting blocked my subconscious’s way of saying that I’m working on a bad idea and it isn’t worth my time? Or, on the other extreme should I always try to push through these mental blocks? The idea being that struggle is a prerequisite for doing something great.

Both of these diametrically opposed positions feel wrong to me. I can think of examples on both sides where giving up or pushing through were the right call. It scares me to waste my life working on things that will never succeed. Yet I’m equally scared of spending my whole life bouncing between projects without conviction and thus never creating something meaningful.

I don’t think that there are any right answers here. And if there are they lie in a blurry middle ground that is constantly shifting. My intuition says that knowing when to give up or keep going is part of the craft. Going forward, when I feel blocked I’m going to try and ask myself the following questions to see if I should give up or keep going.

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