Wednesday, July 17, 2013

20 Reasons to Quit Writing…or Not

We all have those days. We're hacking away on a manuscript, wondering if we're wasting our time. There are a zillion reasons we may want to quit. Below are 20 of those reasons, those negative thoughts that buzz through our heads. These are followed by 20 reasons that motivate us to keep plugging away and following our dreams.

1. You're tired of receiving rejections from agents or publishers.
2. It's beginning to feel pointless to write about made-up people in made-up situations.
3. Your muse is a stubborn, stingy creatures who tosses out good ideas once a decade.
4. The only people who've read your work are your relatives and critique partners.
5. It's just too difficult to do everything "right"--rounded characters, exciting plot, fluid pacing, solid worldbuilding, meaningful dialogue, etc.
6. You don't seem to have any talent for this anyway. Others are MUCH better.
7. There are already millions of books out there…who cares if you write one more?
8. It costs a lot of money for books, conferences, writing courses, and paid critiques.
9. Your family would like to spend time with you sometime this century.
10. Because publishers often publish "garbage" and don't seem to want quality work.
11. Everything's already been written storywise anyway. There's nothing new.
12. You're tired of waking up in the middle of the night losing sleep over your plot.
13. You could be going to the Bahamas or Disneyland instead of writer conferences.
14. Sitting at your computer all day is bad for your posture, diet, and exercise plan.
15. Less than 10% of writers earn enough to support themselves--let alone a family.
16. You're tired of sitting around with unbrushed hair, wearing your jammies or sweats.
17. Writing a rough draft is fun, but revision really sucks! (and revision is crucial)
18. Because nothing you write seems to turn out the way you'd envisioned.
19. Face it: you'll never be the next JK Rowling/Stephen King/Maggie Stiefvater.
20. There are other things you could be doing: painting, scuba diving, cycling, knitting.

1. What else would you do with your spare time--play vid games or watch TV?
2. To prove to Mom/Hubby/Aunt Renilda/Yourself that you really are a writer.
3. So you can say you never gave up. Because you are Not A Quitter!
4. If you persevere, you will encourage other writers on their writing journey.
5. To communicate with the world, to share yourself and your ideas.
6. One day you will inspire, challenge, intrigue, and entertain people with your stories.
7. Because if you don't try to attain your dreams, you'll definitely never reach them.
8. To express the creativity inside you, regardless if the world ever sees it.
9. Because to hold a book in your hand with your name on it would be such a thrill!
10. No one else in the world can write a story the way you do, because you're unique.
11. If you quit, what would you write about on your blog, Twitter, and Facebook?
12. When you connect with other writers, you encourage, inspire, and validate them.
13. Even if you can't write like well-known authors, people still enjoy your stories.
14. Writing gives you a legit reason to read books--all in the name of "research."
15. It only takes ONE agent or editor to fall in love with your story.
16. Through the writing community, you've met people you now call friends.
17. You don't have to publish traditionally if rejected; you can go indie/self-publish.
18. It's awesome to work sitting around with unbrushed hair, in jammies or sweats.
19. Most writers' paths to publication are heaped with scores of rejection letters.
20. It fulfills a part of you in ways that you can't even express.

Have you ever thought of quitting writing? What made you keep going?
Can you think of anything else to add to either of these lists?
Which of these reasons to quit or perservere resonates with you the most?

Photo: taken by me in April 2013 on a trip to the Arches National Park, Utah.


  1. Yes, I think of quitting, especially in times like now when I feel crazy busy and have so little real writing time. I think about how nice it would be to just work my full-time job and take care of my family and maybe even be lazy. I always come back to my love of writing, but for now, I'm not stressing that I don't have much time for it. I can only be productive so many hours each day.

  2. I've thought about it but not seriously. More like, as if. I have way too many stories in my head.

  3. I only thought about quitting once. That was when I cobbled together some of my best stories and submitted three of them to publishers for a story collection, and also sent them all out individually to magazines. And every single submission was rejected. I was so discouraged, I decided to give it up. Ha-ha, that didn't last long. Later I realized, I had jumped the gun, those stories weren't ready. (Later, quite a few of them did get published individually.)

  4. Even when you're writing about real people, it sometimes feels pointless -- but you still write because you're a writer.

    And, you saved the best for last:
    20. "It fulfills a part of you in ways that you can't even express."

  5. I've never thought about quitting. I'd rather write than watch TV and other things. Also, things happen when the time is right and the writing is ripe.

  6. I've never thought about quitting writing.
    Editing with a view to querying agents, on the other hand... Hard work is daunting. I love the freedom of drafting, but I have to push myself to work hard on edits!

  7. Fantastic lists, Carol. Thanks for sharing these!

    What keeps me going? The characters. The new ideas. It's hard to keep slogging sometimes, especially when the words aren't coming easily. But I find that is just my brain needing time to process. Eventually, it comes and then I hit those magic moments where I feel like I'm channeling something instead of creating. Love that feeling!

  8. Quitting? Nah. Never even crossed my mind. Writing just to for fun rather than to get published? Yeah, I toy with that one regularly.

    AND guess what? I actually got dressed today! No pajamas for me. I really need to invest in some with footies so my little toesies don't get quite so chilled.

  9. Excellent excellent list, Carol! I've considered it plenty of times. I'd have so much more free time, and my fam would love my undivided attention. And wow life would be so much more simpler.
    But I'd be an empty shell. I'd be anxious and bored and unfulfilled. So I keep pecking away. :)

  10. I can't quit writing, because I'm a writer. I always have been. I had a period in my life for about 8 years when my son was young and I was working multiple jobs and getting my degree that I didn't have a second of spare time. But even during that whole time, my stories still spun in my head. And the second I finished my degree, which freed me up, I sat down and wrote that first book in less than two months.

    So no, I don't think about quitting. I DO wonder lots if I'll ever be as good as JK or Maggie S, and feel seriously doubtful, but I still wouldn't quit.

  11. I've thought about stopping, but like you said I don't know what I would do. I do think if I lived in a metropolitan area I would like to work at a publishing house or a literacy agency. I really enjoy critiquing and promoting books that I love.

  12. Wow. Did you steal these from my head? Thanks for sharing this, Carol. It makes me feel less alone!


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