A user on one of the online writing groups I frequent posed an interesting question.
She asked “When you do quit?”
The question came after she did a signing where no one came, and she was just feeling like this writing game was no longer worth it. I responded a little more personally on the forum, but I thought this is a topic that I could explore in a more general sense here on the blog.
So let’s ask it:
When do you quit?
Is there ever a time where you should you seriously evaluate the perceived lack of success and the time you spend writing, and really ask yourself if you’re fighting a losing battle. If no one is buying your books, no editor accepting your submissions, and no one is visiting your blog, maybe you really are wasting you time, right?
Well, let me say, I get it. We’ve all been there. Rejections suck. They really do. Especially when you think the story you’re submitting is perfect for the publication. And book sales? Well, if Amazon pulled novels due to lack of interest, I’m sure mine would have been pulled by now.
So, yeah, like I said. I get it. This is a tough business and it’s SO easy to get discouraged.
But what do we do about it? Because let’s face the truth here: Quitting is never an option. No writer I’ve ever met has said, “Oh well. I’m not an overnight success, so I’ll just settle with the day job for the rest of my life.”
And since quitting is really not an option, how do we deal with the discouragement of writing? Start by asking yourself these four questions:
Why are you writing?
Of course this may not be a pithy 140-characters answer, but it is a question you need to be able answer. It might be “your calling,” but it could still be something you simply enjoy doing. It may be that you write because everyone says you’re good at it, or it helps you relieve stress. Or you hope to make money someday. Or you just have nothing better to do.
Whatever your reason for writing, knowing what it is will help you set and keep your writing goals. If you’re writing to get published, for example, you should be studying
How do you measure success?
Success doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. For some, it’s simply being able to type “the end” for the first time. For others, success in writing might me quitting the day job. Others still might not consider themselves successful until they have their own section at Barnes and Nobel.
Either way, before you consider yourself “unsuccessful,” clearly define what success means to you as a writer. You might be surprised.
And if having a line all the way around the corner at your next signing is how you measure success, remember this: We’re past the days where being a writer is synonymous with being a celebrity. If you’re an unknown writer doing a signing at a local coffee shop, the chances of spending an afternoon without selling a single book are pretty high.
What are your writing goals?
This ties in with the two items above, but let’s break this down further. What is your “end game” goal? What are you actually working for? Maybe it is quitting the day job, or just getting published. But you should what that goal is before you start beating yourself over the head for not achieving it.
And then break it down. Where do you want to be in five years? In one? In six months?
…and are they realistic?
If your goals aren’t realistic, you only set yourself up for failure. This is often the case if your goals are too big, or you’re not giving yourself enough time to reach them. Having the goal of making 10 million dollars a year in royalty checks, for example, is not a very realistic goal. Making a comfortable living on writing alone may not even be a realistic one.
And also keep in mind that the publishing world is slow. If you have a goal to be published within a year of finishing your first novel, it’s more than likely that you won’t be able to reach that goal by no fault of your own.
So should you quit?
Well, that’s up to you. But if you ask me, I’ll say no, nope, never. Don’t quit. But if you are at the point where you can no longer stand the disappointments that come with writing, there is no harm in stepping back for a little while and thinking about things for a little while. Take a little breather, and come back refreshed and ready to go.
The blank page will still be here waiting for you.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share any tips about what you when you’re feeling down about your writing.