5 Reasons Writers Quit

Remember when you were filled with a passion to write? You carried a notepad, jotting down the plethora of ideas swirling around in your head. You couldn’t wait to sit down in front of your computer and start putting words on paper. You dreamed of finishing that first novel, getting published, reading rave reviews . . . and then, one day, you quit. Why?

Writing Is Harder Than I Thought It Would Be.

Gathering ideas is the fun part. The story is in your head. You’ve created characters that are so real you talk with them (Admit it. You do.) But when you start to write those characters misbehave and you can’t tame them. Your plot goes in an entirely different direction than you’d planned. Your outline, if you had one, is a mess. You write a thousand words, rearrange paragraphs and rearrange them again and they’re still not right. A little voice in your head whispers, “This is hard, maybe too hard. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I should set it aside for a little while and come back to it.” And if you listen to all those maybes, maybe you’ll quit.

It Has to Be Perfect.

You’ve written a thousand words, but as you wrote you edited yourself, second guessing every word. Is this sentence grammatically correct? Should I have used a better word here? Should I use an em dash or maybe an ellipsis at the end of this sentence? Perfection never occurs on a first draft, or the second, or third and likely—never. If you strive to be perfect, you’ll give yourself the perfect reason to quit. Author Margaret Atwood said, “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

I Should Be Published by Now.

You got through the hard part. Your novel is finished, and now you’re trying to find an agent and a publisher. You’ve done all the homework, targeted agents, written query letters, followed up, and still you haven’t connected with someone willing to get your book in front of publishers. This is where many writers give up. Self-doubt kicks in. That voice in your head speaks a little louder this time, “Maybe I’m not good enough.” Patience is key. It takes time to sell a book. Before you quit seek advice. Connect with a published author or someone who teaches writing. Get a critique. See if maybe you can improve your query letter and/or your manuscript to make your book more marketable.

What Is That Editor Doing to My Book!

You’ve connected with an editor. She/he is interested in publishing your book, but according to him/her it needs work. The editor makes suggestions, quite a few suggestions, and when you read them you’re offended. “What is that editor doing to my book!” You want your words exactly as you wrote them. In your opinion there’s little, if any, need for improvement. So, you decide to withdraw your manuscript. You’ll find an editor who’s willing to work with you. The truth is that probably won’t happen. An editor’s job is to make your writing even better and more marketable. That means providing you with criticism, even if the criticism seems harsh. New authors with big egos rarely place their work. Instead, they quit.

Marketing Takes Too Much Time.

Your book is published, either through a traditional publisher or you decided to publish it yourself. You’re not done. Now, you have to market your book and that often means marketing yourself. This means establishing a platform on social media and engaging with not only those who might buy your book but also with writers, editors and others in the publishing industry. Writers who engage successfully on social media ask for opinions, post cover reveals, and post updates on their writing progress. They sprinkle in fun things like showing off their writing space, their pets, even favorite recipes. They share good news, say thanks for good reviews, and they share posts from writers and readers. Some use Facebook Live and Instagram Live to engage. Others set up virtual events. . . Whew! That’s a lot of work isn’t it? It’s enough to make a writer want to quit. And some do. Older writers especially aren’t willing to tackle the ever-changing world of technology.

Should you quit? Yes, you should. If it’s not working you should quit your method or approach to writing. Have a serious conversation with yourself and decide if your passion is still there buried beneath all your reasons to quit. If you find it, then write. But if the passion is gone then it’s time to give up. Maybe you didn’t want to be a writer after all.

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3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Why write?

3 responses to “5 Reasons Writers Quit

  1. Karen Lange

    This is great advice, Jean. Appreciate your insight. Writing is quite the adventure, isn’t it? 🙂

    Like

  2. Laura Bachman

    I love the scripture, “write your vision that people who read it might run . . . ” I interpret “run” as open-ended–be moved, take action, be committed, take the lead. Recently, when I discovered a big box of my old “stories,” (some from college days), I re-read them. Some moved me to tears, some recalled old dreams that I need to reclaim, and some compelled me to find ways to enlarge my audience. I love telling stories. I love capturing true stories about faith. Yes, passion is the key. As long as that’s still blazing, I want to keep stoking the fire and stirring up my heart’s desire–my vision.

    Liked by 1 person

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