When it comes to writing have I ever said ‘I quit?’ Absolutely! So many times over the years, in fact I’ve lost count. Every time I feel like throwing in the towel over this whole writing thing, it is always because of one reason above all others; the feeling that I am never good enough. Self-doubt gradually creeps in and takes over all reasoning. This in turn leads to depression and eating a whole lot of chocolate to make me feel better.
The reason I encounter those self-doubts to begin with is simply because I compare myself to other writers. I read the end result of all their years of hard work in a finished product and know I can never write like that. I can read pages or paragraphs of beautiful description and feel way out of my league. I see other people’s success as authors – all the books they have published and their many loyal readers, and I think of all the work that is required to get to that level. Yes, it can be very depressing and even in recent months I’ve encountered it once again. As timing would have it, I read a blog post by Kristen Lamb recently regarding this very issue.
The thing is that despite all of this, I keep coming back to writing. Why? I guess it’s because I can’t turn my imagination off. I think of other ‘real’ jobs I could be doing instead, but I have characters in my head that speak to me, wanting their stories to be told (yes, that’s cloud cuckoo-land right there). Writing is my creative outlet and the best way I know how to communicate to others (I’m uncomfortable talking to people).
These days, when I begin to compare myself to other writers I may feel down in the dumps for a little while, but I learn from it and move on. I find that by seeing other people’s success it helps to motivate me to keep on going. And that can only be a good thing. 😉
Did you ever say ‘I quit’? What happened to make you come back to writing? Do you feel like giving up because you’re not ‘good enough’? Do you learn from other writer’s success?
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17 thoughts on “Writers: Did You Ever Say ‘I Quit?”
I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed with editing at the moment, and it’s not that I’m saying I want to quit, but there is that voice nagging at me, “What if agents don’t like this? Why am I even bothering?” Ahhh! I love your gifs by the way. http://www.raimeygallant.com
Hi Raimey. I’m in a similar position at the moment as I’m doing re-writes. Those rough drafts can be painful to read! I’m trying to break it up a bit by doing more research, submitting stories and outlining my next WIP. The way I like to think of my re-writes/edits at the moment is that if I can make it the best I can for my beta readers, then I’m off to a good start. Hang in there Raimey, I know you can do it!
I’m currently hunting adverbs – they’ve crept into everything! – and it brings on a lot of doubt whether I’m good enough to be a writer. Stephen King says that bad writing comes from a place of fear – which means that I’m probably afraid of what I’m writing (which is apparently a good thing) and of rejection. It’s a constant battle during rewrites and editing, but the amazing feeling of creating something new (or actually finishing those edits) makes it all worthwhile. And chocolate really helps 😉
Hi Ronel. I love the feeling of finishing a project, it’s quite an achievement and I wish you all the best with it! That’s an interesting quote from Stephen King. This is when I find the perfectionist in me takes over. I’m currently doing re-writes and edits and it can be quite frustrating sometimes just choosing the right word. My biggest fear, though, comes with the thought of rejection, which probably explains why I find it so difficult to send my work out (let alone give to beta readers). I learnt through my University studies that writing is subjective, so not everyone is going to like what I write (you’ve just got to find someone who does). As long as I’ve done the best I can, that’s good enough for me. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your feelings about quitting. After just coming out of a period where my writing was on the back burner, which means I didn’t write as often or as many hours as I am used to doing, I can honestly say that I think quitting is more like a slowing down. It is doing something else until we have the time to get back on board and move onward.
Everything Must Change
Hi Patricia, it’s good to hear from you! I agree, quitting is like slowing down. Sometimes we need to take a break and clear our heads, so that we can come back to things with renewed enthusiasm. It’s good to know that you’ve come back to spend more time writing! 🙂
Shutting down the imagination is like locking water into a cage with bars. So glad your imagination kept at you and you returned to what you love to do. Sorry you disappeared from the sign-up list. It must have been a glitch.
Hi cleemckenzie. I think being a writer is the only way to get away with having voices in our heads and be certifiably sane. Well, I haven’t had a professional check-up, so I’m sticking with it. Thanks for stopping by!
I love it when the writers closest to me succeed, especially if I’ve been reading their work and interacting with them for a long time. They’re making progress, of course, and there’s that cheering for a friend kind of happiness, but it’s also like another indicator that I’m getting to where I want to go.
Hi Reprobate Typewriter. I agree, it is a good feeling when someone you know succeeds. You’ve been a part of their journey and have also learnt a few things along the way. Every little thing helps to take us on our own path. Thanks for stopping by – it’s good to meet you! 🙂
I keep wanting to quit or do quit very temporarily because I feel like I’m never going to make it as an author by profession, but I come back to it because there’s really no Plan B, and I can’t turn off my imagination any better than you can. I could always write, though, and just not publish, but, what if I CAN make a living at the writing? I am writing stuff, anyway. That’s why I keep trying.
Hi Cathy. Like you, I also have no Plan B. Whenever I feel like I can’t do it anymore, I think of alternative careers/jobs, but they don’t have the same appeal. I thought about teaching once, but my heart wasn’t really in it. I always come back to writing, no matter how hard it may be. I’ve thought about writing without publishing, but I’ve always felt the need to share my writing with others and try to make a living from it. I guess I’m destined for this writing gig!
I’m glad to hear you haven’t given up. I think the main thing is to write for your own sake and to get pleasure out of it. It took me a long time to work up the courage to begin sending my work out and I still struggle with it. But in the end, if I succeed or not, at least I know I’ve tried. Best of luck to you Cathy and keep writing! 🙂
Its so hard not to compare ourselves, but I’m glad you find motivation in it now.
Heather M. Gardner
Thanks Heather. Comparing ourselves to others isn’t helpful at times, but it’s what we do. It’s how we work our way past it that matters. 😉
I found your blog thru IWSG and enjoyed not only your post but the discussion here, for don’t we all face down self-doubt and celebrate when we can persevere with our writing? Like you, I am deep in revision, recasting completely the first third of my current historical fiction (1840s Canada), partly because of comments from beta readers and partly because of that drive to tell a good story. Thank you for reminding me that while I’m editing/revising (at word and structural levels), I can also work on short stories, outline that next story, and just keep writing.
Hi Beth. It sounds like you have some good motivation to keep you going! Re-writing can get tedious sometimes (especially when you’ve gone over the same MS for a while), so it’s handy to break it up with smaller projects and to keep something lined up for when we’ve finished. I enjoy historical fiction Beth so I wish you all the best with it. Thanks for stopping by, it’s good to meet you! 🙂
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