The Joy of Writing & Knowing When It’s Time to Quit

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

December 4 question – Let’s play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

 Rather than answering these questions, I’ve chosen to write about an important topic that came up this past month.

 The Joy of Writing & Knowing When It’s Time to Quit

Throughout my writing career, I’ve seen a few writers who have said, “I’m quitting. It isn’t fun anymore. I’m not selling anything. No one is reading my stuff.” And, then, they do quit.

I’m watching a writer friend saying that they’re giving up writing. Many are rushing to the writer’s side, saying, Oh, no! Don’t quit, or This makes me so sad. It’s nice that they’re being empathic; however, I don’t think these people are listening. This writer is stating a truth, and I believe this writer actually wants someone to say it’s okay to quit or that it’s okay to take a long sabbatical.

A few are saying so but the words are wrapped in subtle positivity where the message of it’s okay to quit is buried in words of You’re talented in so many areas, and Don’t stop being creative.

Yes, there is creativity in all of us. Some are creative with yarn, others paint, others still with trash. Many are creative with food, decorating, playing a musical instrument, singing, and so forth. So many outlets for our creativity.

No one, though, can do everything well.

It can take years of trying and learning before a specific craft or art form is mastered. So, it goes: we try, quit, and try something else until we find that thing that fills us with passion.

There are some writers, though, who get lucky and find their passion and monetary success in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, those are the writers who too many of us compare ourselves to.

That said, writing is not for everyone.

Writing is hard.

Even for those of us who love to write, there are days that it makes us want to scream and cry out, Why am I doing this?

The other day someone was asking me if I’m able to write every day because I’m inspired. Not really. Somewhere along the way, an idea inspired me, but to do the actual first-draft writing, I’m usually gutting out the words. We know these words aren’t great and even somewhat stinky, fodder for the compost pile of prose as they read first written. We stick with it, though, knowing that stinky first words must occur because once shaped, they can become something wonderful—material that others want to read.

Thus, while the original writing comes first, writing is really about the rewriting. Hours and hours of rewriting.

It’s about rewriting, revising, polishing, and proofreading. And, for the self-published…promoting.

These are the parts that most people enamored with writing don’t want to do. Because it’s hard.

We writers don’t write every day because we’re inspired. We write because we put ourselves in the chair, turn on the computer, and just write—one word, one phrase, one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time.

The joy comes once we get into the zone and where time ceases to exist, which for me can occur after a few paragraphs or a smattering of dialogue. It’s just getting those first words down that is sooooo hard.

Writing is a solitary craft.

  • Write because you have a story to tell.
  • Write because it excites you.
  • Write because you’re amazed that you wrote that.
  • Write because if you don’t, you’ll be miserable.
  • Write because you have a truth to share, characters who want their voices heard.
  • Write because you need to share.
  • Write because there’s no alternative activity or craft that provides the same joy.

Write because you simply have to.

Write because you’re willing to do the work!

A writer should never compare themselves to any other writer. Especially the monies earned, or what we think they’ve earned. Did you know that the average income for a writer is about $5,000 or less per year? AVERAGE!

It’s no mistake that so many writers teach, coach, edit for others, and work at jobs centered around writing. It allows them to earn an income that’s compatible with their passion.

Ultimately, no writer’s journey is the same as another’s.

So, to that writer who is talking about quitting, I say:

Listen to your inner voice, your gut feeling. You and you alone know why you want to quit. If writing isn’t fun, it’ll only make you angrier and more frustrated in the future.

Give yourself permission to know what’s right for you.

There is nothing wrong with saying, this path isn’t for me anymore.

If there’s no joy in what you’re doing, you’re doing the wrong thing.

Me? I’ll never quit writing. I enjoy it that much, even the repetitive, time-consuming, polishing, and proofreading parts.

******

This year, Diana published Love’s New Beginnings and Tomorrow’s Wish for Love. She’s currently writing six novellas all at the same time because they are six couples with six stories, all living in the same community, and who are in and out of each other’s stories, which included the first novella, Shattered Dreams, that is already published. She’s working toward a 2020 publication for all six novellas.

******

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgePurpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

About Diana Stout

Screenwriter, author, former English professor
This entry was posted in #amwriting, #IWSG, Blogging, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Joy of Writing & Knowing When It’s Time to Quit

  1. Nancy Gieon says:

    What an excellent post, Diana!! All of us have experienced that “Why am I doing this?” moment but the idea of NOT doing it, scares us straight. Having just gotten out of a terrible writing lull due to outside stresses, I can understand that desire to walk away but now that I’m official retired from at least the 9-to-5 stressors (oh believe me, they’ve been replaced by others!), my writing is my grounding purpose – and will always be, even if I’m the only one reading it.

    Like

    • Diana Stout says:

      Me, too, Nancy. In times of high stress, I turned to the writing to get through it. My sister’s death, break of a marriage, losing a job… Also, me too on the writing if I’m the only one reading it. It’s a wonderful outlet. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  2. mlouisebarbourfundyblue says:

    Marvelous post, Diana! Being a bit of a butterfly, I’ve sampled a lot of endeavors thoroughly, and then decided I would rather focus on two or three; but the one endeavor I’ll never stop sipping is writing. I write because I simply have to! That first draft writing is agony for me. I actually like all the revising, polishing, editing. It’s my husband who looks at me struggling at writing and asks, “Why are you doing this? Are you having any fun?” And I always tell him that this is the thing that makes me feel most alive! He knows me enough not to take this personally, and that many things make me feel grateful and fully alive. All the best to you and your writing in 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The Joy of Writing & Knowing When It's Time to Quit: A December #IWSG blog - Sharpened Pencils Productions LLC

  4. I’ve been a writer all my life. I agree with everything you said. Now, though, while writing novels or novellas, I’ve taken the stance that I’ll let life get in the way and take time to enjoy it. Stories are always simmering in the back of mind. If they come to a boil, I’ll pound the keys again. Happy Writing and Happy Holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Diana Stout says:

      There was a time when I ended up taking a 15-year hiatus from creative writing. I was working full-time and going to school full-time. I was writing but they were dry academic papers, nothing as fun as creating a story! Happy Holidays to you, too! Thanks for commenting and sharing.

      Like

  5. Yes, yes to all the reasons why we write. I can’t count how many times I’ve had the thought, maybe I should just quit, but then someone reads something I’ve written and says how much they enjoyed it. That is reason enough to go on. That and the fact I love my characters and love telling their stories. If I was writing for the money, I’d have stopped long ago. I think I will probably always write, and I’ve told my kids, when I’m old and if my mind isn’t so good, please just make sure I have a computer so I can at least still pretend I’m writing. Great post, Diana.

    Like

  6. margohoornstra says:

    Very true. I, too, have gone down the ‘I should quit path. Many times. When I mentioned I should just quit to a friend, she asked what I would do to replace my writing if I did. I couldn’t think of one thing that would replace it.

    Like

  7. JMN says:

    Good to know…its ok to quit and also okay to try and go ahead.
    After I started this blog, I am running out of ideas to write, though I do love to write!
    I love writing and I do hope to inspire my self to do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

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