15 Reasons to Quit Writing

By: David P. Cantrell

It is very presumptuous of me to write about writing. I don’t make a living as a writer, I’d starve if I tried to, but I love (and hate) the process.

I love the rush that comes with ideas unfolding like a map to reveal the path within. Sometimes the words come faster than I can write and they evaporate. Just a wisp of the thought lingers behind to taunt me—I was great, but you weren’t good enough to catch me. And that brings me to what I hate about writing–the self-doubt: I’m not smart enough, people will laugh at me, who cares what I have to say.

My musing got me wondering what others have had to say about the process, which led me to a Goodreads list of 795 quotes about writing. Some of my favorites are set forth below. I hope you enjoy them.

  1. The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. ― Terry Pratchett
  2. 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer Write.
    Write more. Write even more. Write even more than that.
    Write when you don’t want to. Write when you do.
    Write when you have something to say. Write when you don’t.
    Write every day. Keep writing. ― Brian Clark
  3. You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. ― Octavia E. Butler
  4. Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right. ― Amy Joy
  5. I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day. ― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
  6. There is only one thing a writer can write about: what is in front of his senses at the moment of writing… I am a recording instrument… I do not presume to impose “story” “plot” “continuity”… Insofar as I succeed in Direct recording of certain areas of psychic process I may have limited function… I am not an entertainer… ― William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch
  7. Sometimes I scare myself at how easily I slip inside my mind and live vicariously through these characters. ― Teresa Mummert
  8. There are three secrets to writing a novel. Unfortunately nobody knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham
  9. Rules such as “Write what you know,” and “Show, don’t tell,” while doubtlessly grounded in good sense, can be ignored with impunity by any novelist nimble enough to get away with it. There is, in fact, only one rule in writing fiction: Whatever works, works. ― Tom Robbins
  10. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page. ― Jodi Picoul
  11. The only ‘ironclad rules’ in writing fiction are the laws of physics and the principles of grammar, and even those can be bent. ― Val Kovalin
  12. But in the wake of ‘Bullet,’ all the guys wanted to know was, ‘How’s it doing? How’s it selling?’ How to tell them I didn’t give a flying fuck how it was doing in the marketplace, that what I cared about was how it was doing in the reader’s heart? ― Stephen King, Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales
  13. Don’t over edit. Don’t second-guess yourself, or your ideas. Just write. Write every day, and keep at it. Don’t get discouraged with the rejections. Tape them up on your office wall, to remind you of all the hard work you put in when you finally start getting published! It’s all about persistence and passion. And have fun with it. Don’t forget to have fun. ― Heather Grace Stewart
  14. I’ve discovered that sometimes writing badly can eventually lead to something better. Not writing at all leads to nothing. ― Anna Quindlen
  15. The writing begins when you’ve finished. Only then do you know what you’re trying to say.” ― Samuel Langhorne Clemens

    You will find all 795 quotes here.

Five Websites to Help You Write a Book

from wikipedia.org
from wikipedia.org

You have a wonderful idea for a novel or nonfiction book. This brainwave hit you at a red light or, more probably, at 2 AM when there was nothing you could do about it, and it was like a strand of Christmas lights went off above your head.

The question is: what are you going to do about it?

If you’re like 90% of people out there, you’ll think about your idea and never get to it. Your wonderful, bright, incandescent story will face into obscurity.

I’m not saying every story could or should be written. However, perhaps you have a novel you’d like to share with your friends. Maybe you’d like to write down your memories as a member of the Armed Services or the Peace Corps. These things are important and should be remembered by being put into text.

from wikipedia.org
from wikipedia.org

My first fantasy series was born from the idea of a young girl, her magic typewriter, and a frightening train. As I wrote The Night Watchmen Express and the other books in my series, I was working a full-time job.

The difference between the 90% who will never see their own story in print and those who do is time. We all have 24 hours in the day, and the question is this: what are you going to do with them?

Of course we all have hours that are already delegated to work, parenthood, or other obligations. However, there are moments in the day we can steal for ourselves. Are you going to play Angry Birds? Or are you going to write a story?

When I was teaching full-time, I used to come home and pop dinner in the oven. I’d get my schoolwork done and, when I was done, I sat at the computer and wrote for an hour.

60 minutes every day adds up to a lot of time and, over months of dedication, a lot of words. In fact, I began to love my story so much I dug out more time to work on it by getting up early and putting off bedtime. I just wanted to get the story out, a process much like giving birth.

from www.freestockphotos.biz
from freestockphotos

Even if a daily hour is out of your reach, you can accomplish much in 20 minutes. If you only write 500 words a day, at the end of two months you’ll really have something.

There are other ways to kickstart your own creative efforts:

1. Many look to NaNoWriMo as a way to kickstart their projects, and I don’t dispute that. For some it simply doesn’t work, since forced word count in the drive to get to 50K in one month results in a messy manuscript. Still, published and successful authors have started there, and perhaps it will work for you.

2. Another site to nudge you to sit at your desk each day is 750 Words. This website logs your typing and gives you badge at the 750 point. If you do it for 30 months you’ll have 75,000 words, which is a nice length for a novel.

Do be advised however, that this site is no longer free and costs 5$ a month for membership. It might be worth it to you to get your wordcount up daily. However, maybe you can set up your own system with your own rewards (sweet treats after each 10K, a shopping trip at 50K) to make this site unnecessary.

from www.freestockphotos.biz
from freestockphotos

3. Are you a ‘Procrastiwriter’? In other words, do you sometimes clean out your sock drawer or organize recipe cards instead of finishing that chapter? Head to Shanan’s blog where she gives you advice – and inspiration – to guide your butt back to that office char.

4. Myrddin’s own Connie Jasperson offers friendly advice in all areas: grammatical, structural, and personal. Reading her blog is like chatting with your favorite aunt or BFF. Replete with gorgeous images and amazing links, Life in the Realm of Fantasy is a must for writers.

5. He’s oh so NSFW, but Chuck Wendig makes you laugh at the same time he’s kicking your behind for not living up to your full potential. A prolific author who’s reached the NY Times bestseller lists, Chuck also has several books for writers that are some of my favorite references. http://terribleminds.com/

I’d like to add this final point: smartphones are terrible thieves of time. I don’t condemn you for time spend playing games – Lord knows I’m a game freak when I’m not writing, reading, editing, or being a person – but an hour spent on 2048 is time when you could have created a character, developed an outline, or even completed a flash-fiction piece.

In any case, can you imagine the moment when you finally finish your story and type THE END? I can tell you it’s an incredible feeling.