Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

storm moving across a field
October 12, 2016

3 Reasons Why Quitting is an Option

jgxw0u“Oh my god, I’m going to burn this manuscript and get a job grooming Guinea Pigs.”

Okay, so maybe you didn’t want to become a Guinea Pig groomer. But I’m guessing all of us, at some point or another, have threatened to make s’mores on a bonfire from the worthless piles of paper we thought would be our published beauties. We’ve all read the blog posts about pushing through writer’s block, romancing your muse, conquering the three-act structure, etc, etc. and thought, “Okay, then, let’s do it,” only to moan into our pillows that we’re doomed to failure.

So sure, I could give you a pep talk, convince you that you can do it, but I won’t. Today, I’m going to give you three solid reasons why quitting this writing gig may, indeed, be the way to go.

1) Writing is hard.

How many times have you encountered a well-meaning friend or stranger who announced, “I’ve always wanted to write a book. You know what, I’m going to do it. You’re doing it, so can I,” and you’ve smiled and politely responded, “Yes, you absolutely should,” instead of telling them that shoeing grasshoppers is easier?

Writing is hard. You’re creating people, worlds, lives out of the chaos in your brain. Those people have to talk to each other, they have to do things, think things, grow and learn from those things. They have to be people that perfect strangers will relate to and cheer for (or collectively hate). Your settings have to be vivid and your action has to be plausible.

And after you’ve written 90-some thousand words, you may have to scrap a few thousand of those painfully bled words. You’ll have to revise then revise again. You’ll find that you’ve used “brilliantly” 243 times in the manuscript and that your character went from brunette to red-head without ever opening a tube of hair color. Or that the perfectly worded, heart-wrenching scene where the main character confesses his deepest, darkest fears to the Guinea Pig just doesn’t work in that story.

2) Writing is heartbreaking.

You’ve put in the hard work, persevered, and you’ve got a shiny beautiful manuscript. You send it to agents and wait. You know at least 124 of the 126 you’ve queried will love it and offer. How could they not love it? Your email pings and it’s one of the agents, your heart does a hippity-skip and you rehearse how you’ll respond to the offer of representation. Except it’s a rejection. And it’s followed by another 147 rejections.

Until one agent loves it and off it goes to editors.  When the "thanks but no thanks" start pouring in all over again, you wonder which one of you – you or your agent – was on antihistamines when you thought the manuscript was ready for prime time.

Until one editor loves it and your baby manuscript is sent out into the real world. The reviews start populating Goodreads and Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And readers point out every flaw you don’t have and accuse your Guinea Pig of being on steroids. Your book should be banned because of all the curse words and they boldly announce that you used “poop bucket” 6 times.

But they’re strangers, what do they matter?! Your neighbor who you walk your Guinea Pigs with every day just finished reading it and you can’t wait to hear how much she loved it. Except she has an awkward grin and mutters something along the lines of “You worked on that book for several years, right? Hmmmm,” and you wish the turkey vulture flying circles above you would hurry up and swoop you away.

3) Writing is expensive.

Have computer, will write. Easy as that.

Not so fast.

There’s software to help you write more efficiently, apps to zap you if you try to get on Facebook during writing time and software to help with keeping your story timeline under control. For some of us, there’s the notebook and pen addiction because each manuscript needs its own notebook to jot down the brilliant ideas and its own pen that you can tuck into the notebook for when those brilliant ideas show up. And if you’re like me, there are the three ring binders and ink cartridges and boxes of paper for printing each draft. And more pens for the revision process because I can’t do the red pen for revision – too cliché (and we all know how important it is to avoid clichés). Anywhoo, a few dollars here and there can quickly add up. And it’s only the beginning!

If you’re serious about your writing, you’re probably attending writing events – conferences, retreats, workshops. The cost on those can quickly add up, especially if they involve travel and hotel stays in addition to registration fees.

‘Scuse me for a sec while I see who’s at the door. Okay, I’m back and with me is the next lesson in “writing can be expensive” … books. In today’s delivery - three books by writer friends. One is a book I’ve already read (received an ARC from the author). Why buy a copy if I already have one? To support the author. And because I loved the book. I’ll use the bought copy as a giveaway at some point.

Notice I said “today’s delivery”? Yup, that’s because it’s the second package this week. I also ordered a book on writing. I have so many of these and I’ll admit that I haven’t read all but I plan to. Really. Just like I will eventually read all of the books on my shelves. Really! Okay, fine. But that doesn’t stop me from buying more. Because I’m a book-a-holic.

Now that I’m preparing for my debut, I’m also starting the hunt for author promos and publicity opportunities. Based on what author friends have done and found successful, I created a wish-list budget. Hubby laughed when I showed it to him (I’m now working on my real-life budget).

But fact is, as an author, you’re going to have to shell out money to promote your book.  You’ll be buying copies of your own baby, printing bookmarks, buying those little somethings that you can use for giveaways. You may be paying a publicist to help spread the word or paying for a launch party.

So not only are you torturing your brain cells to come up with amazing new stories, you’re putting your emotions through the meat grinder, and you’ve boarded the express train to bankruptcy.

Told ya I wasn’t going to give you a pep talk! But here's another cute Guinea Pig to make up for it ...



Now that you have a host of excuses to quit, here’s the one reason you shouldn’t …

Writing is the best job ever!

We get to create worlds. And make people (people we don’t have to feed or change or drive all over town at least). And we get to tell stories that will touch others.

My biggest hope (aside from more book contracts, obviously) is to one day hear from a reader that one of my books made them laugh or cry, made them reflect on their own relationships, or just gave them a much needed break from every day stresses. And that hope is what keeps me going when the writing is hard or when the heartbreak feels overwhelming.

Your turn … what’s your reason to keep writing?

About Orly

Orly-Ivy.jpgOrly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world, where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a member of the Tall Poppy Writers. She is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.

Orly’s debut, The Memory of Hoofbeats, will be released by Forge in 2017.

You can find her on Twitter at @OrlyKonig, on Facebook at OrlyKonigAuthor, or on her website, www.orlykonig.com.

64 comments on “3 Reasons Why Quitting is an Option”

  1. Oh, Orly, this is so true! You have really told it how it is, but the best part is at the end where you say "Writing is the best job ever"! It truly is. I have loved to write since the age of nine and have never ever considered not writing! Writing is my passion and part of my whole being.

    1. Thanks, Fay.
      I wasn't one of those writers who always knew I had a story to tell. But now, I can't imagine not writing. 🙂

  2. How timely! just recently I had a melt down and wanted to give up, grooming guinea pigs actually sounds like a good option. Fortunately, I have a great editor, who calmed me down and with his support, I am back on track. The answer to your question is I love to write, more than anything in the world and I agree with Fay "Writing is the best job ever" I need to remind myself of this from time to time. Great post thank you.

    1. Thank goodness you have that editor!! We all need that one go-to person who can talk us off the ledge. It also helps to remind yourself that all of us go through the same melt down at one point or another (or multiple points).

      Keep writing, Susan!!!

  3. Thanks for this post. I so needed to hear this right now. I'm at that point of quitting, even though I can't imagine ever not writing. Every day's a new chance to start over, I suppose (and thanks for not saying that lol).

    1. HA! Nope, that's part of the pep talk you won't hear from me. Can't count the number of times I've told myself "today is a new day and the perfect day to get back into an exercise routine." That's total crap. I can think of at least 15 things I'd rather be doing instead of exercising. That one overriding reason to do it just hasn't locked in for me yet. But writing ... there's not one thing I'd rather do. Okay, not true ... I'd be happy to work with horses everyday instead but that ain't happening so writing it is. 🙂

  4. This made me miss my childhood guinea pig Steve.

    I was recently challenged to answer the question of whether I would continue to write even if nothing ever got published. I said yes, of course I would continue to write because I have these constant ideas and I love the process and I want to exercise my gifts. But I would also continue to strive through all the things that make you want to quit, because what is writing without a reader, after all? I love to write. I don't know if I *need* to write, but I love to write. I want to be read. I don't *need* to be read, but I want to be read.

    And though guinea pigs are very cute, no amount of guinea pigs would satisfy like the writing does. 🙂

    1. "I don’t know if I *need* to write, but I love to write. I want to be read. I don’t *need* to be read, but I want to be read." <-- Perfect! 🙂

  5. I know I'll never be able to quit, but I thought I was beaten down and squashed far too often to qualify as a writer when a friend announced at a conference that she had 1,000 rejections. Real rejections, in her house. But she also has publishing contracts and has self published, so I realized my problem is more that I don't take the chance often enough to get rejections. Which means I'm not taking enough chances to be accepted. It got me going again, and I'm more dedicated than ever to finishing, submitting, and writing more. But I might take a night class on grooming guinea pigs, just in case...

    1. You have to put yourself out there. Glad your friend shared her downs and ups with you.

      And let me know about that night class ... I may join you. 🙂

  6. Orly! As someone who had an actual guinea pig grooming business during my childhood (no kidding--but remember that I also grew up on a gerbil farm--also, not kidding here, my dad was a gerbil czar and we had 9,000 of the critters housed in gerbil barns in our back yard), I can safely say that writing is a better job than grooming guinea pigs. HOWEVER, every single thing you point out here is true. Writing is hard, it breaks your heart, and it can be the world's most expensive hobby. But it is also the BEST JOB EVER. P.S. Reading your great post made me sorrier than ever that we missed our meet-up in Boston!

    1. Oh my god, Holly!!!!!! I LOVE the gerbil czar!! I'll be back in Boston in January. 🙂

  7. I've almost quit several times. But I decided instead to just cut back, writing only blogs or letters to friends or some poetry. Then I discovered, during those times when life got insane and I couldn't write at all, that I become *very* cranky when I wasn't writing. Clearly I need to write for my own (and my family's) health!

  8. I have often threatened to throw my computer through the window because of the hard truths you've mentioned. I never have. Besides there would still be a pad and a pen and I know I would be writing with them if I did. But I have heard some of those words you mentioned that my readers might say. I have beamed with pride over some of them. Or wept or ranted because they were not the ones I wanted to hear. 'Another besides here. I do not only get cranky when I don't write, I start stuttering and not being able to talk because the words only want expression through my finger tips on the keyboard. Thanks so much, Orly.

    1. Interesting what you said about words wanting expression through the finger tips and keyboard. I know exactly what you mean. I find when I don't write for a while, I start to withdraw a bit because I get overwhelmed by noise of my real world clashing with my made-up world. As long as I'm writing and allowing that made-up world to have its own place in my life, I'm good. Thanks for making me think about that. 🙂

  9. I love everything about this... Thank you. I recently put up a little post about my books. A young lady commented: "Your books changed my life..." Yowza! I sat there staring at her words through tears in my eyes. Good tears. But now, leaving my comfort zone (nonfiction) and taking on the challenges of fiction has caused me to stumble. Which morphed into a lack of confidence, and then the fear immobilized me. But I wasn't acknowledging "what" I was afraid of... and if you don't know what's holding you down, how do you rise above it? I will never forget your incredible kindness, Orly, when I reached out to you the other day. Our chat gave me the clarity I needed to move forward in the querying process. Thank you...

    1. Another reason not to quit - the amazing people we meet during this journey. You, my dear Melanie, are one of those people. {{{HUGS}}}

  10. You speak for all of us who wonder why we write, yet know there isn't a way we can NOT write (even though the expense can be like sending a child off to college, and the rejection pain similar to getting all your teeth pulled!)
    My two favorite lines I hear a lot are: 1. I've been thinking of writing a book too. (As you mentioned - like it is a half-hour job we do on a quiet weekend.) And, 2. - So are you retiring when your book comes out?
    That's when I laugh so much I sound like a hyena.

    1. I hear that first line a lot, Jill! Like you say, as if it's so easy! And I hear variations of number 2 - "Are you still writing?" (as if I wouldn't be) is one!

      1. The thing is, Fay, I plan on retiring in a couple years - right around my second book should be published. I already know that people will assume I've "made it big", when in reality it won't have a thing to do with the five dollars I may have made by then in my writing! 😉

    2. And my other favorite: "You're STILL working on that book of yours?" Yes, yes I am. 🙂

  11. Oh, sometimes I quit...for like a month. But I always come back. I just miss the people too much. Our characters become old friends, and we love them. Most days.

    1. And when we don't love them as much, we can torture them without going to jail for it. 🙂

    1. We all have vices, as you said. And some are perfectly acceptable in my reasoning (says the woman who was just unpacked a box of books from BN and now can't figure out where to put them). 🙂

  12. I did quit. Two weeks ago I decided to focus solely on my "day job" of author branding and website design until the end of the year. Twelve hours ago, the block I've had for three months broke with the force of Hoover Dam. Now I know the next two months are going to be crazy for me, but that "have to write" thing is back and more insistent than ever.

    1. June, there's a difference between quitting and taking a leave of absence. Sometimes we have to walk away from the writing for whatever reason (day job, life, plot blocks) in order to rediscover what makes it such an integral part of who we are.

      Sounds like you're in for crazy but satisfying times ahead.

  13. Thanks for such a great post. We have all been there. When we are drowning in real life and the writing is on the back burner, you wonder if you should just hang up the computer, and toss out the papers, but then - what would you do? Shoe grasshoppers? Groom guinea pigs? The prospect of getting back to writing seems better. Thanks again.

  14. Best job ever. I've been a writer for nearly...oh I can't say it...but a fiction writer for about two. Journalism is work. Fiction-writing is magic. And I say that after writing and revising my first finished novel for nearly a year. Hard work. But magic.

  15. Not only is this the best job being about to be creative for readers, it's addictive. I find that I love writing so much, I can't imagine not writing. So, I won't quit. Although I also wouldn't suggest quitting a day job, unless you become a national best selling author. 🙂

    1. Considering the amount of time we invest in it, we have to love writing. Thanks for reading, Jennifer. 🙂

  16. O.K., I used to live in the South, the Clearinghouse of unusual expressions. But "shoeing a grasshopper"?! Never heard it; Love it! And now we've read a comment from an actual guinea pig groomer--who'd have ever thought? Thanks for a wonderful bright spot in the day. Still chuckling.

  17. Yes! Writing is painful. Very painful. I re-wrote my first book 37 times. Thirty seven times!!!

    It was an Amazon best seller, but 37 times? My biggest regret is that I didn't start seriously writing much earlier in my life. It is the best.

    Oh... the guinea pig groomer... LOVE it!

    Great post.

    1. 37 times! I think you just gave Laura a nervous breakdown with that comment. 🙂

      Thanks for reading, Linda!

  18. It's a disease, a compulsion, an addiction that won't go away. I wasn't into guinea pigs. I told the Lord one, "All I want to do is weave wheat." He had other ideas!

  19. This is so timely. Last night I received a synopsis critique from attending a Writer's Digest synopsis webinar a couple of weeks go. Initially, I thought why in the world am I spending so much time and money - maybe I should just quit! But then as I read through her comments and track changes it hit me that this is my first synopsis critique and it really wasn't that bad. I have a tendency to strive for perfection from the gitgo but this writing business takes time, effort and patience with oneself. I am back on the horse again today for another ride. It will be interesting to see where it takes me.

    1. Good for you on investing in yourself, Cyn! I look back at the early manuscripts (the ones that will never come out to play) and I'm amazed at how far my writing has come. Time, effort, and patience ... yes indeed!

  20. I got my first royalty payment last spring and at this point I can honestly say that I'm paying people to read my books. At least when I consider the amount of effort and time and money I've invested. But....there's nothing I'd rather do and it is beyond humbling to talk with a reader who is moved by my book. There's no price tag on that. When my first book came out I heard from an inner city teacher who told me that the book helped her understand what the parents of her students were dealing with and it made her cry. Which, of course, made me cry. So, yeah, with one kid in college and two more headed that way, quitting makes complete sense. I could make more money grooming guinea pigs, and maybe I'll have to resort to that, but can you imagine the material that would generate??

Subscribe to WITS

Recent Posts





Copyright © 2024 Writers In The Storm - All Rights Reserved