On Quitting the Writing Game
I’ve seen some posts making the rounds on social media about writers considering quitting altogether. This is something I’ve gone through myself, even after writing professionally for 18 years. Imposter syndrome and insecurity never go away. The best you can do is temporarily beat them back with a large stick. Eventually, they will come calling again and mess with your head.
I was bemoaning my lack of writing success this past New Years’ Eve. Another year had gone by, and I felt I hadn’t reached a point where I’d like to be in my writing career. My wife came to me a few days later with a pep talk/kick in the ass. She thought I was being too hard on myself. I can always count on Jenn to keep things in perspective and give me the proverbial boot in the rear/support when needed.
My takeaways from our conversation are below.
Remember why you started writing. It was because you love telling stories. Being creative is a gift not everyone has.
Finishing writing a novel is a major accomplishment. Writing multiple novels is an even bigger accomplishment. How many people say they want to write a book someday but never do?
Social media fame and increased followers are a double-edged sword. You can wind up with supportive, encouraging followers and fans. You can also attract some idiots and people who want nothing more than to see what you can do for them.
Keep writing. You don’t know what next year or five years from now holds as far as success. And like it or not, a large chunk of success in the writing game is luck.
However, I firmly believe the more you write and get stuff out there, the better the odds of success (whatever your own definition of success might be).
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I wanted to tie a rock around my laptop and make it sleep with the fishes in Lake Erie. And if you’re thinking of quitting and at the point where writing is making you miserable, maybe ask yourself the following:
Is my life better if I don’t write? I would even go as far as taking a break from writing. Maybe two weeks. A month. Whatever you need. Then ask yourself some more questions.
Were you happier not writing?
Did you not think about writing during your break? Did you not have the urge to write at all?
Did you miss it at all?
In my case, whenever I’ve put the writing aside out of frustration and gone back, I realized I had missed it. And at the end of the day, maybe we should realize that writing fiction should be fun (at least some of the time). After all, we’re just making things up, and sometimes people pay us for that, which is a bonus.
As with all writing advice, the above should be viewed with great suspicion and reported to authorities if it gets out of hand.