You're going to hear a lot of advice as a writer.
Good advice is all over the internet (especially here, in my humble opinion). Bookshelves groan with the weight of “how-to” compendiums. Your inbox and mine overflow with great articles on how to achieve your writing dream.
Two Essential Words for Writers
That is all excellent, but today, I'm giving you the only two words that matter: beyond all advice, beyond all classes, beyond all books and blogs, DON'T QUIT.
Don't Quit (Even When Nobody Else “Gets” It)
You can only truly fail if you quit, so keep writing!
It's easy to say “don't quit.” It's harder to follow through in real life.
- When your trusted friend hears your story idea and tells you it's not good, don't quit.
- When you get the fifth (or fiftieth or five-hundredth) rejection from an agent, don't quit.
- When your story doesn't even place in that contest, don't quit.
Your story idea is like a seed—and sometimes, you're the only one who can imagine the future tree. This is normal. This is also one of the most painful phases of creation. During the period of time when no one else can understand what you're doing, it's absolutely essential not to give up. Your story-seed needs time to grow.
Don't Quit (Even When It's Harder Than You Thought)
Keep moving forward.
- When finishing that book takes longer than you hoped, don't quit.
- When you realize you have more to learn than you ever dreamed, don't quit.
- When literary agents or editors tell you your idea isn't ready for publication, don't quit.
Writing takes time.How hard can it be to write your story? As it turns out, very hard—but that doesn't mean it isn't worth the struggle.
You'll run into roadblocks, look back on older writing with some embarrassment (and hopefully a good sense of humor), and struggle to incorporate new techniques. This is normal. There's a learning curve for anything worth doing, and writing definitely falls into that category.
Don't Quit (Even When It Seems Impossible)
Don't quit. It's very easy to quit during the first 10 years. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it's very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can't get fired if you don't write, and most of the time you don't get rewarded if you do. But don't quit.
― Andre Dubus
- When you feel like you're writing in a vacuum and no one cares, don't quit.
- When you feel like your career as a writer will never be what you wanted, don't quit.
- When you feel like it's hopeless, a pit with no bottom, a road with no end, DON'T QUIT.
You're going to make mistakes. You're going to get lost in the writing labyrinth and struggle to find your way out (and probably have to fight the Doubt-Minotaur to manage it). You will hit writer's block. You will run out of steam. You will have days where every single word you've ever written looks like complete drivel to you. This is normal. As the old saying states, when you're going through hell, keep going. In times of excruciating doubt, it is more important than ever that you keep going.
(One Last Time) The Two Most Important Words for Writers: DON'T QUIT
Fellow writer, don't quit.
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.'
—Mary Anne Radmacher
Fellow struggler, fellow word-wrangler, don't quit.
Fall seven times and stand up eight.
Writing is worth the struggle. You can do this. Don't quit.
Have you ever felt like quitting as a writer? Let us know in the comments.
I have a slightly different homework assignment for you today. Take the usual fifteen minutes and go toe-to-toe with the last writing project you either quit or wanted to quit. Was it because someone doubted you? Because it was a bigger project than you thought? Whatever the reason was, write about it in the comments and take the vow right now with me: I won't quit. You can do this. Don't forget to leave encouragement for other writers!
Best-Selling author Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and was keynote speaker for The Write Practice 2021 Spring Retreat.
Author of two series with five books and fifty short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom, using up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon.
When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away.
P.S. Red is still her favorite color.