When You Feel Like Giving Up
Hullo old chaps! Long time, no see! What’s cookin’ with you? Speaking of cooking, I made cookies yesterday, and they were yummy but slimy.
Don’t ask. I think I put too much … oh, who am I kidding? I have no idea what when into those things!
This is my pitiful attempt at a professional, inspirational post. Let us note that I suck at inspiration. Seriously, I am really bad at it. I’m like, “Just get over yourself and do something!” However, I’ve been told that my methods of inspiration at a little rough. So … bear with me.
Some day in your writing life, you will feel like just giving up.
Usually this is during your first draft – known as ‘writer’s block’ – or while revising – known as ‘editor’s horror’
(No, I did not just make that up … well, yes, I did, but it’s gonna be a thing someday! You wait and see!).
Perhaps you’ve felt like giving up in the past or feel like giving up now. If not, trust me, some day you will want to give up.
Why will you? How can you avoid it? Have I ever experienced any of this? Find out by reading on … or, you know, you could leave now … and then you’ll never know …
1: Writing is Emotional.
If you think it isn’t, then you’ve obviously never written! It’s hard. It involves a lot of sweat and blood on the writer’s part, a lot of mental effort, a lot of straining for the right words. But I’m talking about the pain.
Have I ever told you how hard it is to kill off a character you created, fictional as that character is? Have I ever told you how a writer feels every little hurt a character experiences? We live our characters’ lives.
Even if our characters live happy lives, writing is still emotional. It puts a lot of strain on the writer. Is it any good? Will anyone like it? Will they like my character? My plot? My writing style itself? Do I even like it? Writers have a hard time separating their books from themselves sometimes. I know I do. If their book isn’t any good … well, neither are they! Might as well give up, right?
If you write a story you’re passionate about, then you won’t be able to put your pen down (and neither will your readers). The pain will be worth it.
I’ve always had a hard time completing my books because I wasn’t really into them. But let me tell you, when you get into a story, you really zip through it! You know me … I spend hours pondering word choice and order. However, I could barely stop to think when I was writing At Her Fingertips this last November. By the thirtieth, I’d written 65,000 words which are … well, it’s the first draft, but I don’t think I’m gonna be doing a ton of revising.
No, I won’t stop bragging about that … it’s a big deal for me!
2: First Drafts Inevitably Suck
Bluntly put, I know, but it’s so true. And, based on my earlier statement (waaay up there when I was talking about emotions instead of my success as a NaNoer), the writer often interprets this as “I suck.”
Nothing could be further from the truth! Oh, how I wish I could steal first drafts from all your favorite authors, all the greats of the writer world and share them with you, but I can’t. I’m sure, however, that these drafts are every bit as messed up as yours!
But we don’t get to see the original draft, do we? How can we know how lame their first drafts were? We can’t, and so authors (especially beginning authors) give up.
Actually, I think I already made my point, so there’s not really anything to type here.
So … I guess I’d better … sing?
*chokes* Mmkay, that was a bad idea.
The first draft of TDS was in first person. Miss Chattoway was a bubbly society flirt
(in the most innocent sense … shame on you for making me add this in). She had once been engaged to Mr. Parker.
I know. I just scared myself, too …
3: Halfway Through the Story, It Just Ain’t Working
This happened to a project I was writing about four years ago, The Heirs of the Trunk
(and several other projects as well, but I won’t list them). It started out great, but as I got to the middle … it just didn’t work at all. I didn’t know where I wanted to go next. I looked back on what I’d written, and I decided it was pretty lame. I deleted it.
Now? I regret it with every fiber of my being! I have managed to save parts of it, and you know what? For an inexperienced eleven-year-old, the book wasn’t bad.
It isn’t anywhere near as good as what I’ve written more recently (and what I do now is still pretty lame) … but it is a pretty good story up to a certain point, the writing is decent, and the characters are actually somewhat vivid.
I wish I had finished it.
I wish I had saved every version of it that I ever wrote.
It would have been so easy to put it all in a Word file and store it in some hidden place amongst other failed stories. Who cares how much it sucks? Some day you may want it, if only to remind yourself how much you’ve improved.
But a novel that just isn’t working for whatever reason often discourages authors from writing.
Okay, I guess I already did that … again …
Wait … this whole thing was pretty much an example …
There’s no way around it. At some point, someone won’t like your book! I’m so sorry, man, but your writing isn’t for everyone.
Now, I truly believe in the old ‘sticks and stones can break my bones’ saying. If you don’t let words hurt you, they won’t.
Besides, nine times out of ten (well … I’d say more like seven times out of ten), the person who said something ‘mean’ about your work was just trying to hurt! Step back and take a look at what they said.
Maybe there’s some truth to it. Most of the time, you can learn something from negative feedback. Things like, “I didn’t much care for the writer’s style” doesn’t really help you (although it’s always good to see why they didn’t like it, of course) … but “the characters seemed a little dull to me” does help you. Is there a way you can make them more exciting? How? I just bet you’re gonna put that into your next story, aren’t you?
5: You Just Don’t Have New Material
Many authors (including me) suddenly realize that other people are writing books just like theirs. Now, this is a legit fear … but it’s also a lie. Why?
(or rather how … because those two statements contradict each other …)
Every year, somewhere between 600,000 and a million books are published. That’s a lot of competition! Some of those books are yours. Many of those books are probably better than yours. A hundred or so will be best sellers; one or two may even live on to become classics.
But why is other people are writing books just like yours a lie? Here are three reasons.
- Those other authors aren’t you.
Nobody is like you. It’s in the Bible, for goodness’ sake! Normally I don’t buy into that ‘I’m special … I’m unique … I can be whatever I want to be … I’m worthy … I … I … I-phone’ junk, but …
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. ~Psalm 139:13
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. ~Jeremiah 1:5
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. ~Psalm 8:4-5
You see what I mean? There will never be another Annelika Wazalika, Josephina Hosephina, or [insert your name here]. So it stands to reason that there will never be another author like you. Only you can bring what you bring to the
table writing desk.
- People read the same stupid books over and over again anyway.
Even if you are someone other author’s clone, so what? People read the same stupid books over and over again … with the same stupid plots … the same stupid settings … and the same stupid characters. *shrugs*
(Yes, I am partially kidding … but it’s true! “There’s nothing new under the sun.”)
- You could really bless someone.
I don’t care what you say about being an awful writer, about your stories being terrible, about your ideas being stupid. So what? No one has lived the life you have … and you have a new message, a new idea, to teach someone.
Who is that someone? I don’t know. I plan to keep writing until the right story reaches the right person and that person is blessed by it.
Is that blessing simply a story well-wrought that distracts a depressed teen from an abusive childhood? Is it the book that will launch an annoyed third grader into a life of reading? Is it simply showing someone bored with history that the past is just as exciting as the present if not more so? Is it some deep message that will benefit them as they walk through life?
I don’t know. But whatever it is and whoever the person who needs to receive it might be, I hope and pray that God will guide me to write the words needed … and the person to accept them.
There are many things that drive excellent authors to give up on their stories. However, I’d say that the main one is lack of self-esteem. I know it’s hard to remember sometimes, but, although you may not be special (yes, I did just say that!), you can be special because God made you – you, Hooper Humperdink! – an individual person with the ability to become an amazing human being … and through Him you will be special.
Th – th – th – that’s all, folks!
*hums Looney Tunes theme*
- Do you ever feel like giving up? Why?
- Are you inclined to post-writtem depression? How ’bout mid-writtem depression? Or pre-writtem depression?
Yes, I’m making these all up … probably …
- Have you ever eaten anything Indian (as in Asian Indian not American Indian)? I’m having a guy (circa 1870s) talk about Indian cuisine and … yeah. It ain’t working for me.
- What is your biggest problem with your current WIP? Is there any way I can help? (DON’T SAY YES I KNOW NOTHING!)
- Do you like Looney-Tunes?
- Do I have a crazy philosophy of life that should be banned with all my ‘not special on your own power’ and ‘words aren’t actually bad unless you let them be’ junk?
- How are you at inspiring people? If you’re good, can you rub on me a little? I mean … theoretically or … not literally. Unliterally. Unliterally rub on me … ’cause otherwise it’d be weird … ;P
- One time while I was at camp, a girl got dared to pretend to be a cat and rub up against someone mewing.
- I just had to chase a boy and hug him. *shivers* After I caught up to him, we just did a side hug (or a guy hug? What do you call those hugs-that-aren’t-really-hugs?), though, ’cause it was a Christian camp and boy, am I glad! (no offense to the boy … just … eesh …)
- How long before a book is published would you recommend doing the cover reveal? (What?)