The Side Effects of Quitting
Yesterday I posted about why we write. Today, I want to talk about why we don’t write. There can be as many reasons why people don’t put words to paper as there are for why we do, and just as many as to why we stop sometimes.
There are people who say that writers write; simple as that. Following that logic, would it be safe to say that during periods of time when we are not writing productively that we are no longer writers?
I don’t think so.
I think some of us are simply born with the need to put words down, to leave a mark through the written word. That does not mean that we are productive at this endeavor every day of our lives. Life has a funny way of getting in the way sometimes. No matter how much you want to sit down in a quiet corner and just let the ink flow, there are days when that will never happen. Hell, let’s be completely honest. There are weeks, months, even years that we are not writing productively.
I think it is safe to say, however, that we think about writing almost all the time, even when we are the farthest from our notebooks and pens. For me, those periods of writing inactivity are filled with anxiety and a feeling that there is something tangible missing from my life. Still, it doesn’t keep life from getting in the way some times.
So, if we can accept that we are still writers even when the most writing we are getting done is in our head, why do some people quit completely?
I think it circles back to our reasons for writing in the first place, and in our falling out of touch with them.
In our world, there is a lot of pressure to succeed. And by succeed, I am referring to society’s definition of success – big house, big car, lots of money, fancy trips. Now we all know that this doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with our own personal definitions of success. But as fledgling writers trying to dip our toes in the great big pool of published authors, many well-intentioned people will equate your publishing deal with those trappings of celebrity success. And, if your book sales do not bring that type of success, then you by default are NOT a success. 😦
I think, as writers and creatives, and just as individuals trying to follow our dreams, no matter what they are, it is important for us to stay in constant contact with our reasons for doing what we do. We need to keep our own personal reasons for writing or painting or skydiving in the very forefront of our hearts and minds so we don’t forget.
Because it is not about how much money we make. If it were, the majority of writers would be in for a rude awakening. Often, it is not even about being able to make a living at our chosen dream. It is about feeling fulfilled and alive and being true to ourselves.
That being said, I don’t think any of us would say no to making a living at following our dream. I would love to publish my books and make a comfortable living doing so. But if that doesn’t happen, I won’t be quitting because writing, for me, is about more than the money. When I first started, it never occurred to me that I would ever be thinking about the best way to get my book published. I just wrote because I needed to get my story down.
When I started to submit to agents last year, the rejections, though completely expected since I knew the odds, really brought me down. It was difficult to brush myself off and say, well, on to the next query letter. Self-publishing seemed like a huge, scary cop-out. Since then, I have talked with many other writers and professionals in the publishing industry and I have come to realize that it is not a cop-out at all. It is a challenging option and one that I am now fully embracing. Yes, it is hard work; yes, there are still no guarantees. But the industry is changing and the benefits of self-publishing continue to grow.
I came across this post over at The Intrinsic Writer, by my fellow-bloggess, Katie Checkley. I think she speaks for all of us who have had these thoughts of just throwing in the towel and spending all our time and energy on something less dangerous to the psyche. But then, I think she realizes the truth in the end. Writing is who we are and we cannot hide from that. The dream will still chase us. Quitting is not an option.