GIVE UP YOUR WRITING?
Maybe you’ve come across some of the posts asking the question: Have you considered giving up your writing?
In recent days and weeks, I’ve come across several posts, both blog and on Facebook and Twitter, asking similar questions. My blog plans have included this topic for some time, but the increased interest moved this post up on my editorial calendar.
LET’S GET SERIOUS–Have YOU HAD THOUGHTS OF QUITTING?
Perhaps like this rusty relic, an Underwood typewriter from the past, you sometimes feel battered, worn out, at a loss as to how to move on, and you just want to throw up your hands and quit. I think lots of us have.
Last week K.M. Weiland posted a similar question on Facebook. I was stunned when I began typing a comment with the word “yes” front and center! To be honest, I have considered giving up my writing. In fact, as recently as the last few days of 2016. And many times throughout that long and arduous year.
I happen to have a live-in cheerleader, however, my husband, Bob. He won’t let me give up. He too is a creative and in some respects understands the “enemy” when it comes near. Not everyone is as fortunate as I am.
What can cause a writer to give up?
In my case, I felt a heavy cloud of depression and unending conflicts from health issues. I’m certain these were talking over any desire I had to write and finish my memoir. How do I know this? Because as soon as I finished my comment on K.M.’s Facebook post, I turned to thinking about the remaining revisions and edits to my manuscript and discussions I’d had with a publisher.
However, there are many reasons causing us to consider setting our writing aside. Perhaps you have contemplated this decision in the midst of everyday burdens, health issues, and more. Note that K.M.’s Facebook post received 101 comments. You can scroll through and read about some of the reasons given.
reasons writers stop writing
The variety of reasons a writer might be tempted to stop writing is broad and usually personal to the writer. Here are a few:
- Day job and its stresses;
- Health issues–injuries, surgeries, PTSD and more;
- Financial stresses;
- Having and/or adopting children into the family;
- Writer’s block, stuck and can’t get started, hiding muse;
- Critique and/or writing groups;
- Will the truth I am writing hurt friends or family; should I write my story.
- Publishing aspect of sending your book into the world;
- Marketing aspect tiring and overwhelming;
- Lack of encouragement from people in the writer’s life.
Any or all of these things can interfere with your creative life. The one thing to remember is none of these is your fault. However, you are the one who can take charge and make a difference.
Here is a small package of encouragement from Linda Wisniewski, author of Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, and Her Polish Heritage:
Recently, I’ve begun to think of scoliosis as a metaphor for my life. I’ve struggled to please teachers, employers, parents, boyfriends, husbands, twisting myself into someone I can’t be. I hurt when I do this, because it’s not natural. And it never works. But when I stretch my Self, instead, the results are different. When I’m reaching for my personal goals—to be a good mother, wife, friend and writer—I feel my balance return. And the sense of relief, as I become more the woman I truly am, is simply grand. [emphasis added]
― Linda C. Wisniewski, Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother, and Her Polish Heritage
What to do when the urge to quiT hits?
Take a deep breath, take a walk, meditate, listen to some music you love, read a good book. And think about nothing related to writing for a few moments.
Then, give yourself as much time as you feel necessary to rid yourself of any negative feelings you’re experiencing. It is important to overcome the negativity before attempting to write.
When you feel like you’ve hit that point when writing is something you want to do, try it. Find a quiet place, clear your mind. Try free writing or journalling. Write anything: your thoughts, your feelings, or ideas for a project. It doesn’t have to be structured. Just write.
Perhaps afterwards, in time, you’ll sense a desire to return to that project or outline or revisions you’ve been avoiding. I use the word “avoid” carefully, because we aren’t necessarily avoiding our work. Our lives are avoiding the work, and we are held somewhat victim by our lives.
Remember that rusty Remington typewriter above? Like that typewriter, a little refurbishing and refreshing is all we need to get our writing underway again. From rusty, shabby, unhappy, wandering writers, we can become the writers with initiative, motivation, a desire to write. Like the Remington here, we’ll feel shiny and newly energized!
I’d love to hear from you
Please leave your comments below. It doesn’t matter if you agree, disagree, or feel I’ve missed the mark. Let’s come together for discussion because though many say they would never give up their writing, many of us do feel that emotion. “Talking” about it may help.
Have I ever considered giving up writing? Yes. More times than once. But why do I keep going? I know this sounds like a cliche, but I write because I cannot not write. It’s something within me that keeps me going. Interesting to see some of the reasons people listed as reasons for giving up. The one that probably pains me most is critique/writing groups. While it’s true some people have a hard time dealing with any type of constructive criticism, writing groups should be there to help. Members should be sensitive to other writers feelings and act accordingly. (Especially with new writers.) However, in the world of writing it’s important to know that not everyone will like your work and we must learn to have tough skin. Another great post, Sherrie. So glad to see you writing and blogging again!
Joan, I count you as one of my encouragers with your driven attitude toward writing. Driven may be the wrong word here but it’s the constant attention and production you give to your blog and your books. 2016 was an ace of a year for you, and I want that to be my 2017 or 2018. My decision to go forward with the memoir and its publication is in part due to your excitement over your book.
Thanks for adding your thoughts on critique/writing groups. It is important for us all to remember that our work will not be liked by everyone and we need to learn to grow that tough skin!
You are gracious in your comments always, and I so appreciate you, Joan!
I appreciate you too, Sherrey. (Remind me about the tough skin when I get my first scathing review.) 🙂
I did almost no writing for about six months in late 2015-early 2016. That was mostly due to the grueling demands of relocating from Pittsburgh to Austin. I gave serious thought to just stepping away and finding a new way to fit into my new Austin community. But then I grew lonely for the fellowship of writers. I missed my tribe!
When I finally got serious about putting fingers to keyboard again, in Word rather than Gmail or Facebook, it all came back. I rediscovered how much I love to write, but it’s more than writing. Writing is how I learn about anything. Organizing my thoughts is that stretch Linda Wisniewski refers to. My current WIP is a new book to take the place of the out-of-print Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing. Right now I’m working on chapters about Story and how pervasive it is in our lives and about Truth and Memory. I feel like I’m handling multi-faceted jewels that overflow my palm. I’m turning each one, trying to fathom its depths and how best to position it to reflect the light so it perfectly diffracts onto the page.
I set this writing for a week to work on another urgent project. But all the while I was thinking about The Book and writing in my head. That’s the key. I write in my head all the time. ALL the time! So I have to let some of that out into view.
Sherrey, you are incredibly fortunate to have your cheerleader Bob. May he always keep your feet to the fire and your fingers flying. You’re one of the ones I missed during my time out. Glad we’re both back in our chairs!
‘ I feel like I’m handling multi-faceted jewels that overflow my palm. I’m turning each one, trying to fathom its depths and how best to position it to reflect the light so it perfectly diffracts onto the page.’—————-Beautiful Sharon. That is where i am now too. I am loving my writing more than ever. Its a special place to be, for sure. I went through a bit of an odd dry spell recently too. Lacked inspiration while getting knocked down by physical sickness but now back in the saddle and feeling more energized than ever, even in this year of the Donald.haa
Michelle, I agree with your comment about Sharon’s words. Lyrical, great imagery, a painted picture. Just beautiful! Glad to hear you are better and writing. Even in this politically warped year.
Sharon, it’s good to be part of your tribe! Your faithfulness in showing up here and commenting is inspiring. I know that you had a busy six months, and personally, I’m so glad you’re back to writing. I look forward to seeing your new book.
I’ve often wondered when we’re writing in our heads if other people can see the words jumping in and out. I wish I were clever enough to create an animation of a writer walking down the street while writing in his/her head.
What’s incredibly fortunate about my cheerleader Bob is that with both of us being of the creative mind, we can appreciate whatever the other is having problems with, our successes, our failures, and it’s great to have that personal support from the one you love. We received our first royalty check from the sale of our business the other day, and as Bob showed it to me, he said something to the effect that he couldn’t have done it without me. Then he called me “best friend and partner.” Made my day!
To you too, Sherry, new year greetings; though slightly belated, we are still in the first month of the year of infinite possibilities. Your write on write is just the right prescription to get back on track when the focus is lost. Writing makes you an exact man, said Francis Bacon centuries ago. I write for attaining some measure of that exactitude.
Rajagopal, welcome! Glad you stopped by and thank you for that great quote from Francis Bacon. Focus is indeed something we need to maintain, and some days our job is getting that focus back on the right thing!
Thank you for sharing this Sherrey! I’m sure many can relate. I
have learned to be my own writing cheerleader lately, RAH RAH REE! I’m thankful to be over my writing block and now on a total ‘upswing’ in my writing. I got refocused (reinspired) to start writing short stories and essays on my Blog (one blog a day challenge for 2017!)
It has been the perfect antidote for me now instead of feeling I MUST continue to write my daunting Memoir. Plus it is teaching me to be a more disciplined writer which is my goal.
Wow, one a day for a year on a blog. AWESOME! May the wind behind your back power your fingers. Or something like that. May the chirping of 365 crickets sing stories to you.
I’m going to remember when I need a blessing of some sort to get in touch with you. I especially like the one about the crickets!
Thanks much Sharon. It helps to keep me accountable to myself.
Michelle, I am impressed that you have challenged yourself to write one post a day in 2017! I struggle to get one a week done. Watching you work through this challenge may be something all of us could gain some inspiration and encouragement from.
Stepping from writing memoir is not a bad thing. Often the truth that is ours can’t be allowed to stare us in the face so consistently. We need to step back and breathe fresh air, air not filled with pain and hurts.
Thanks for stopping by.
Thank you for sharing this. It couldn’t have been easy. On the contrary, writing has saved my life. Literally. When I had a stroke, ten months ago, I was furious. I had just published “Getting Rid of Ian” and was all set for more presentations, reviews, media blitz, you name it, and important people were chasing me. Then, suddenly, I was nothing. Unable to walk, talk with a slur, no right hand (and I’m right-handed), helpless (I thought), with a terminal illness. But I had a mind, and a memory, and time. I also had a smile and a chuckle, and that’s taken me a long way. I’ve always written, but now I write compulsively. Maybe it’s having more time or the realization that there’s no time to waste. Will I quit? Never.
Penelope, your down time has been such a great frustration for you. Mine cannot compare. I am just glad you are writing and still smiling and chuckling. They say laughter is good for the soul and your health so you must be living proof with the emphasis on the word “living!” Fortunately, so it seems from your words, you came away from your stroke with the most important things to continue your writing: a mind, memory, and time. And, let’s not forget that smile and chuckle. Your reference to the “realization that there’s no time to waste” has similarly been in the back of mind. In addition to still continuing to heal from last year’s fall, I now know that I’ve got some vision problems sitting out there. All under good control, but still there. It’s all a part of the aging process, I know, but it makes you stop and think about time. Despite thinking about quitting, nothing brings me such joy as my writing does right now. That’s because I’ve decided I don’t want anything to stop me from experiencing that joy of the written word from my mind and memory!
Continue healing, dear friend, and keep writing!
Sherrey, here’s to you for honesty and perseverance. I too have been tempted to stop writing. In my case, I don’t have a manuscript underway right now, but I have been doing a weekly blog for almost eight years, and the need to to have something fresh to offer every week as well as to stay connected with others does begin to get me down sometimes. What keeps me going is that I want to learn about my new subject, jubilación, or jubilee, as a better name for retirement, and writing is one of the best ways I know to LEARN. Other people’s observations and questions in comments and on FB keep me going. So far. 🙂
Shirley, thank you for your kind words. You are probably the last person I would ever connect to the words “tempted to stop writing.” But then you talked about the blogging and staying connected getting you down. I think we all suffer from that sense of the connections we need to make and keep, and definitely it interferes with the writing we’d much rather be doing. I hear and read about a lot of people who say “I just want to write.” Don’t we all! You and Sharon both mention learning from your writing, and I must confess I’d never thought of that connection. Thank you for opening my eyes and mind to that. Jubilee is a beautiful word for retirement. Jubilation is what I felt that last day on the job!
Yes, I have thought of quitting, but I haven’t yet. 😉 I am thrilled you chose to include a quote from my memoir in this blog post. If I take the time to savor the meaning of that connection with others, knowing my words touched someone else, and meant something, even encouraged them to go on, that’s reason enough to keep writing and sharing.I’ve had a few health challenges in recent weeks myself, and so I’d like to share the blog of one of my favorite writers, Louise DeSalvo, especially this particular post: https://writingalife.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/take-a-30-minute-holiday/
She has been unable to write much lately because of Lyme disease. Her book, The Art of Slow Writing, reads like a breath of fresh air right now. Yes, time is limited, but that doesn’t mean we have to freak out about it. Which I can also do quite well!
So, thank again, and best wishes for many good writing days to come!
Ah, Linda, just what I needed to read this morning. Got up feeling sorry for myself and all I need to do. Your words were encouraging to me and so I wanted to share them. Definitely I’ll read Louise’s post. And I’ll be sending positive thoughts your way for feeling better days. Slow writing is what I’ve been doing, and a lot in my head when the drugs aren’t messing with my mind. Please visit again.
BTW, I’ll be reviewing your book soon right here. When its scheduled, I’ll email you the date. I have enjoyed reading your stories and learning about where you came from and who you are now.
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