Between getting our words down on paper and then trying to get someone (agents, publishers, READERS, anyone) to care about those words, we may come to a cross point in which we say, "Is this even worth it? Why in the world am I doing this to myself? I think I'll take some medicine to numb the voices and just go back to bed. Forget it. I'm done." *sticks out tongue and blows a raspberry at the world*
I've been there myself, many a time. But each day, I put myself back in front of the laptop and write. Even on days when I don't want to.(I don't wanna, I don't wanna, I don't wanna). Why? Why do I put myself though this craziness? Well, I'm still trying to understand it myself. And though I don't have a clear reason why I keep plugging along (I'm a masochist. I'm schizophrenic. Like Lady Ga-Ga, I was born this way), I do know several reasons why some writers give up:
Reason #1: Writing is hard. It is. The writing process, at times, can be incredibly fun and rewarding. When the words flow and nearly write themselves, it's amazing. It's almost a high type of feeling. A rush. But there are other times, many times, in which writing just plain sucks--the words do not come; or the words DO come, but they are crap; editing (it's a pain in the butt, but SO necessary. Do not skip this step. Just saying); promoting and marketing (UUUGGGHHH); and then coming up with another great idea. Oh the pressure! No wonder I feast on lots of migraine pills, chocolate, and caffeine.
Reason #2: Rejection. It is NO fun whatsoever to be rejected by agents, publishers, or readers. Rejection stings like a sucker punch to the groin (for men) or to the heart (for women). I mean, you've slaved over your masterpiece, worked hours and hours (years and years) on your craft, and now you have this amazing story and (drum roll) . . . no one wants to read it. Or at least it feels that way. With each rejection letter that comes in from agents and publishers or less than favorable reviews from readers, you begin to wonder if you've just wasted your life creating something no one cares about (I should have bought a subscription to Netflix and watched all the seasons of NCIS, House, and Dexter instead--people talk about that stuff). Everyone hates me. Maybe I really do suck. We internalize the rejection to point of letting it cripple us.
Reason #3: Fear of failure (The "what if's"). This kind of goes along with being rejected, but not entirely. Sometimes the fear of failure is so overwhelming, so terrifying, that a writer would rather quit than actually submit their work to anyone--beta reader, agent, ANYONE. To stand in front of the world naked (because that's what it feels like) with your book in your hands is scary. It is. I relate it to standing in the middle of Times Square in New York, without a stitch of clothing on. Terrifying. My hope is to get more cat calls than rotten tomatoes or heckling sent my way. But there is no guarantee of that happening. For all I know, people will only focus on my cellulite and stretch marks and not the fact I have a pretty nice smile and a laugh in my eyes. This is the chance I take. This is the chance we ALL take. *a shiver of fear just ran down my spine*. Also, questions like: What if I become a laughing stalk? What if only my mother buys it? What if, out of all the KABILLIONS of writers in the world, I become just another obscure writer? What if? What if? What if? Then we think it is better to quit than to know for sure.
When I posted this question on Facebook and Twitter, these were the three responses I received in one form or another. Mostly, people are afraid of failure. No one wants to fail, whether it be writing or anything else. For many, this our dream and to fail at achieving our dream would be near that of experiencing a death of sorts.
In the Writer's Digest January 2012 issue, Jack Brickman, a novelist, said this, "All of us are scared: of looking dumb, of running out of ideas, or never selling our copy, of not getting noticed. We fiction writers make a business of being scared, and not just of looking dumb. Some of these fears may never go away, and we may just have to learn to live with them."
I think the biggest thing we need to remember is why we write in the first place. I know I made light of this in the opening paragraphs as to why I write, but in actuality, I write because I have to. I can't think of a time in which I didn't write. It's a part of who I am. I hope people will want to read what I wrote. I hope people will LIKE what I wrote. But regardless, I will keep on writing. Just like breathing. Just like sleeping. It's engrained in me.
Miss Snark on her blog had this to say, "Publication may be nice but it's not the only reward.The very act of writing is its own reward. It teaches you (if you pay attention) how to see the world through different eyes; how to wield language skilfully; how to organize a persuasive presentation. You recognize that writing is a creative art and brings you joy. You recognize that doing something difficult over and over again, and trying your utmost to improve is a worthy endeavor even if you fall short of your goal. You recognize that these moments of despair or frustration or fear are part of the process, and will make the achievement of your goal just that much sweeter."( Posted by Miss Snark 2/20/2007).
So here are my 3 main reasons why you should never give up:
1) Remember why you write. If you are writing for fame and fortune, then I guess you better get out now. But if you are writing because you love the written word, or you feel as though you have a story to tell and want to share it with people, however many that will be, THEN you must keep on writing. If it make you happy, then do it. Nothing else matters. None of it. Not the rejections. Not the lack of readers. None of it. Write because you have to.
2) We are ALL afraid. There is not one writer/author out there who doesn't tremble in their boots now and again. But if we give into our fears we will NEVER achieve any kind of success. We need to kick the inner critic to the curb, push the hairy butt of doubt off our chests, and go for it. We can't let fear rule us. We are given only this one life to live and we need to make the most of it. I want to make the most of it. If I don't go for it, and push fear aside, then I will never know if I could have reached my dream. You won't either. Fear sucks. That is a given. But don't ever let it stop you from going after what you want.
3) Writing is hard. But wait, you say, that was a reason you gave for writers give to up. Why are you saying it should be a reason to keep going? Because nothing that is worth anything comes easy. You put in the work, you will reap the rewards. If writing were easy, then noone would applaud your efforts, ever. Everyone would be a writer (I know it feels like that is the case, but it isn't). It's hard to become a doctor. It's hard to become a great ballerina. It's hard to be a construction worker. It's hard to be a waitress. It's hard to be a fireman, cop, EMT, computer programmer, chef, dog groomer, you name it. It's all hard. Why then should writers be given a pass? We shouldn't. We wouldn't want that for ourselves. The harder it is to get what we want, and the harder we work to achieve it, the more we will be grateful for the success we attain. It's humbling, really. I don't think, if we are honest with ourselves, that we would want the writing experience to be any other way than it is. Am I right?
At the top of my blog is my writing motto. I will be successful. I will taste it. Maybe not today or tomorrow or a year from now, but success will be mine. I'm pretty determined to find out what flavor success tastes like.
I hope you want to find out what it tastes like too.
I wish you all the best of luck and it is my hope that if becoming an author is your dream, your passion, that you will NEVER give up. Please share your reason why you write and why you won't give up in the comment section below. Not only will this cement in your mind why you must keep going, but will also help others who may be struggling with the very decision to push onward or to push up daisies when it comes to their own writing.