Most writers don’t fail, they give up.
That’s the single biggest problem we face on the long run, letting the workload or the industry or social media or [whatever] get to us and push us off the road.
That can happen for a variety of reasons, maybe we’re burnt out, maybe we’ve got pressing “real life” obligations, maybe all our manuscripts to date really suck, maybe maybe maybe for a thousand different reasons. But deep down, when we get off track and screech into a halt, it only happens for one single reason — we gave up.
A very important quality of successful, professional writers is perseverance, and it bears repeating since more writers get lost along the way than actually get anywhere. What perseverance really means is to stick to our guns come hell or high water, to get back at the wheel after every break, to keep going even if we find ourselves on a detour, and get right back on track. As long as we don’t give up on ourselves and our dream, nothing external, no amount of opposition and dismay, no amount of hard work and obstacles can keep us from eventually reaching our goal.
And what a wild roadtrip we’ll have to tell stories of!
Keep your head high, however deep the waters. Keep believing and working for it, however hard it may be at the time.
Don’t give up on your story
Every story idea is a good idea, even if the concept and premise that’s grown out of it may not be suited to you at the time. Don’t trash the seed just because one of the sprouts grew crooked.
Maybe your initial story idea gets you stuck halfway through the development process. Don’t give up on it. Let it simmer for a while, but then get it back out, brainstorm, talk it over with other writers, draw maps, sketches, throw around scene cards, plaster your ceiling with post-its. Get your gears working again. Worst case, you come up with a better idea.
Don’t give up on your work
You’ve been writing for a year, or two, or five, and are getting tired. Novels are long term commitments, they take a lot of time and gray matter, a lot of sweat and blood to get done. When time seems to dilate before you and the road looks endless, just remember you have more meat to it than you had a month ago, even if it’s just 500 words, and next month you’ll have even more, and before long you’ll have a finished novel!
Finish the draft — finish the rewrite — birth that baby, it’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done!
And if you’re a short story writer,
Don’t give up on the courtship
Querying a novel to agents, or short stories to paying markets, is much like courting the high school beauty queen when you’re just the janitor’s kid wiping floors for a buck a day. You can feel like a total looser and piss into your shoes every time you stand up to the challenge, but you have to try, you have to persevere — you’re going to be rewarded and it will mean the world if you’ve earned it.
Don’t give up on the courtship of publication, that’s the only sure way to get lost in the crowd. Maybe you’re not going to get the beauty queen, but some honest girl, somewhere along the way, will see your true heart and love you for it.
And on the bottom line of all these trite metaphors, just cut the self-pity and trust yourself, believe in your dream, suck it the damn up and keep going. Even just to spite the nay-sayers, if “realizing your potential” no longer cuts it for you.
Work for it, sweat for it, grind your teeth for it, and your work will stand for you when you need it most.
I dare you to move forward.