Writer's Life: Guts

Writers often share a common feeling of guilt (see last post). I loved ALL of your comments. You proved to me that writers do indeed share another trait: guts or the courage to press on against adversity.

Here are just a few of your comments that give us courage to press on against guilt:

Joanne: We don't clock in and out regularly, and so in some eyes, our work lacks authenticity. But it's important to set a precedent at home, to expect respect as much as we give it to others. And our children learn then, too, there are options as to how we all can earn a livelihood.

Terri Tiffany: I needed to look at my writing as a career first--then it followed everyone else did.

Christa Allan: Don't try to absolve yourself of guilt. Write through it, love them (family)through it, and just keep writing.

Careann (Carol): I think the most important thing I did was take my writing ability seriously. If we don't value ourselves and what we do as writers, no one else is going to either.

In today's writing industry, if we're serious about developing a career, then we can't hide behind our computer screens, send out a book, and cross our fingers for good luck.

If we want to succeed, then we need to have GUTS. We need the courage to dream big, the determination to persevere, and the daring to push forward against all obstacles, even against guilt.

We have to be willing to work infinite hours, get little affirmation, and wait a long time, perhaps even years, for any monetary reimbursement. We're battered by the ignorance and misunderstandings of those outside the industry and often rejected by those within. We may lack support from those closest to us, maybe even doubt our own abilities.

When we think of all we have going against us, it's amazing that we persevere at all. I can't think of too many other professions where the outlook is quite as bleak. If I was, say, a scientist, and I had to work endless hours, with no praise or pay, faced rejection, misunderstanding, and self-doubts day after day, would I stick with it? I doubt it. At the very least, I'd have to think seriously about giving up and doing something else.

It's easy to give up on the writing life. I know I've been tempted to quit a couple of times. But the thing about us writers, is that against all odds, we keep going. We have a passion for writing that won't die. And that passion gives us the guts to persevere.

Has the going ever gotten tough for you? Have you ever been tempted to give up your writing? What kept you going?


  1. I've laid my writing aside for a while, but that was a long time ago, and it was the right thing for me then.

    Have I been tempted not to write since then? No. I love writing and I can't imagine not doing it. BUT... I also told myself, and God, that if my writing ever took his place or my family's place in my life, where it started to become more important to me than those two things, I would quit. Kinda like the whole "pluck your eye out."

    That said, I have the GUTS to go forward, to work my best on creating the balance, and to write the stories God puts on my heart.

    Thanks for the encouragement this morning!

  2. Sometimes I've felt tempted to stop, but the thought of quitting just because it's challenging goes against my prideful grain. LOL! Plus, I want a career that I can love. I can love writing. So I persevere and when I think of stopping, then I think about how I'll feel ten years from now, wondering what would have happened if I hadn't quit.

  3. I think the going gets tough every other day for one reason or another.

    The reason I don't give it up? I love it. Every time I think I might stop, God puts another part of a story on my heart.

    The story itself keeps me going. Once a story is in my head, I want to see it through. That's also how I deal with rejection or lack of 'praise or pay.' I write for God, first, and for myself second. And He and I want to know how the story ends.

  4. Many times I've questioned whether I got my wires crossed in conversation with God over my writing. But He always confirms that writing is what I'm supposed to be doing right now, even if I'm the only one gaining from it at this point.

    It's nice to know I'm not alone in this journey of perseverence and obedience.

  5. I received two rejections yesterday. It's part of the game. You carry on. Yes, I have lulls, become discouraged. Quit, I don't think so.

  6. Have I thought of giving up? Is rain wet?

    I have given up a thousand times, then come back to try again, because words are in my heart and my brain and my blood and my hair, demanding to be shared.

    I can't not write. Even if it's a letter to my mom or a poem for our church bulletin, I MUST express what I believe is God's heart to those I love.

    If one life is changed because of something I wrote, and God is proud to call me His child, it will be worth all the stuff.

    Now, please copy and paste this into your next email to me when I am whining about pressure! LOL!

    Thanks for this excellent post,

    P.S. See the comment from Jessie in my post from yesterday re: you popping your buttons!

  7. For me, Jen summed it all up in her comment above. Tempted to quit, yes, frequently, for a multitude of reasons. But the one reason that drives me to keep on going, the thing I always come back to, is just what she said... if one life is changed because of something I wrote, and God is proud to call me His child, it will all be worth it!
    Thanks for the post, Jody!

  8. I could considering giving up all I want, but unfortunately I'm kinda stuck into this writers roll. I HAVE to write or I am not happy. I have the guts to move forward, especially considering I have nothing to lose (minus a bit of pride and a tad bit of sanity...but who needs that!)

  9. Like so many of the others say, I have no choice but to write. It's what I do, even though it's difficult sometimes, when we get really close, and a door closes. A full ms is declined, a query regretfully passed on. But then we find another way, an agent, a project, and the love of the craft keeps us going. It's all about love.

  10. Thanks for sharing those encouragements, Jody. They're important to hear and retain.

    I've not yet thought about giving up; I don't think I have it in me. I have, though, given worry to whether it'll turn out the way I dream for it to.

  11. Sad life changes tempt me to give up or bombarding negative thoughts, but I've learned to use those as motivators and inspiration.

    It's about releasing control to God to see what He wants my life to look like. I feel the pull to write, so I write. In some ways it's a form of obediance.
    ~ Wendy

  12. I've never been tempted to give up writing. But, I have had to take a lot of time to think over my motivation. I've had to pray a lot to receive guidance. I've had to ask God which direction he wants me to take--because I know I've tried to rush in the wrong direction many times.

    Also, I HAVE been discouraged. Many, many times. At times it made me lost my confidence a little. Made me wonder what the purpose of this gift is. I combat this every day by knowing I will reach people with my writing, by knowing that's what I'm supposed to do. What this looks like in the long run, I'm not positive, but it keeps me going. Have a great day!

  13. The going often gets tough! But one thing keeps me going: I promised myself I would write this book. I'll get it done!

  14. I have not only been tempted to give up, I have given up. I ended my relationship with my agent, put my writing aside, but--thank goodness--kept reading some of the related blogs and stayed connected.
    Through events that can only be classed as a "God thing," I was led signed by a fabulous agent who liked what I'd written. Now I'm under contract, my second novel is under consideration, and I'm back writing. Yes, I gave up, but God obviously had other plans.

  15. I've been tempted to give up on seeking publication - but I've never been tempted to give up writing. I love it waaay too much to give it up. Plus, I would probably go psycho. My brain would explod with too many words stuck inside. :) But you're right, trying to get published is a very long and arduous road. I'm glad we have a community here to support and encourage one another. A community of fellow writers that "get it". They understand the journey is TOUGH! Thanks for the post, Jody. :)

  16. Sure I have! I think all writers think of giving up. It's hard and we may not see the fruit of our labors until much later. For me, I have not wanted to give up on a dream. Not really to get published, though that is the ultimate prize, but to say I have done it. I wrote a book! To write something that would give someone as much pleasure as reading books have given me would be the ultimate prize really. If nothing else, my book would make a great Christmas present! lol

  17. Of course it's tempting to give up. But then I can't imagine what my life would be like if I weren't writing. Plus, enough people know that I'm a writer. I couldn't possibly let them see me as a quitter!

  18. I did quit writing for a lot of years. I did a few things in those years, but nothing to send out. It is with the new blog that I finally found a place to share ideas and have things read. That made all the difference in the world to me.

  19. I have been tempted to quit many times - especially the first time I went through the whole query process. That was really tough. I don't know what kept me going - partially the encouragement of friends I've made online, a little bit of habit, but I think mostly I just need to have that creative outlet in my life that writing provides.

  20. Once I started writing, I knew I wouldn't stop--now ask me about other things in my life and the answer would be yes!

  21. I said on my very first post that I wouldn't give up writing until God somehow told me to. That hasn't happened yet, although some inner voice sometimes makes me think about quitting. God always answers back with a reason for not giving it up.

  22. I remember sitting at my desk feeling dejected. My heart cried out a prayer. Lord, do you really want me to write?

    Not 10 minutes later, the phone rang. The head of a writer's group invited me to join them. I found support, resources, and encouragement.

    Susan :)

  23. Thank you for the Guts & Guilt posts. We are a peculiar bunch of people, arent' we? But it's great to find out you're not alone.

  24. The one time I was MOST tempted to quit (and there have been others) ironically had nothing to do with anything I'd written for writing's sake. I wrote an email (at work) to a student, explaining something to her. Later that evening, I checked my work email from home (bad idea!) and she had written a chilling response to me about how rude I was and how my response was sarcastic - and of all things, how I'd overused my exclamation points. I cried for HOURS...partly because I thought I'd failed at my job, and partly because I thought if I couldn't accurately communicate to her in a simple work email, how could I be entrusted to WRITE? How could I be sure I wouldn't be as misinterpreted in "the writing that mattered?" I stepped back for a while but finally decided I would not let her steal my writing. (I will admit, though, I'm still pretty leery about emailing her!)

  25. i haven't wanted to give up. there are times when i feel that perhaps the timing is wrong. when it gets hard, i think maybe that's what the problem is. but i never want to stop...perhaps my focus needs to be tweaked.

  26. I am frequently questioning how writing is to fit into my life of a mother of five children, and yet, it's what I've been doing my whole career so I can't imagine not doing it. It's also a lifeline as I move through the sometimes very difficult days of raising children. The thought of quitting does come from time to time, but when I look at the lifeline factor, I know that it can't be -- not while I'm alive, anyway!

  27. Writing is wonderful and scary at the same time. Putting yourself out there always does. You are right, it takes guts... and a lot of heart! I tend to think that the best things in our lives usually do though. I've heard a quote before and I'm not going to get it right on, but... we are all scared to fail, but if we don't try we already have.

  28. I have wanted to give up on writing at least a million and one times. I get frustrated with the "feeling" that I'm not doing anything "worth while". I know that's a lie, but it still gets me down from time to time.
    What's really encouraged me is something I read in Max Lucado's book "The Cure for the Common Life". He asks you some very soul searching questions that, if you're honest, will make it very clear what you're called to do. I know I'm called to write. That, and only that at times, is what gets me through the discouragement and, yes, the guilt.
    Thanks for the reminder to be courageous :)


  29. I sometimes give up writing every other paragraph. It's tough because, like almost all writers, I'm a MOWE [my own worst enemy!]. I'll read over a few pages and wonder why anyone would read that drivel, blahblahblah.

    Then, I remind myself, these are great problems to have because they mean I'm going after my dream.

  30. Jody, your blog posts are always so good. You should compile them into a book someday. :-)

    I've been tempted to quit a few times, but thank goodness, it only lasts a few days.

    Once, when I was in high school, I wrote myself a letter of encouragement. I told myself how much I loved to write and how I simply could not give up. I even put two quarters in the envelope for a soda as a "pick-me-up" (obviously it was awhile ago as 50 cents won't get you a pop anymore!). I sealed the envelope and wrote on the outside something like, "To be read if you need encouragement and are thinking of not writing anymore." I still have that envelope and I don't think I've opened it yet. :-)

  31. I have to work in spurts, which isn't a great way to do it. But I refuse to give up, I just have to alter my plans every now and again. It helps to have so many blogging friends to help inspire me when I get frustrated too!

  32. The only thing that sometimes tempts me to quit is the inner voice that taunts with reminders that I'm not a good writer and I'm wasting my time because nobody is ever going to want to read my drivel. I always have an answer for that voice: it doesn't matter if it isn't good, and it doesn't matter if nobody ever reads it. I'm writing because I love to and it satisfies me. Then I challenge myself to try harder and write better to prove the voice wrong.

    Careann/Carol J. Garvin

  33. Everyday feels like a battle with my dream. I trust God to use me as he sees best, but I would feel pretty bad if our wills were not aligned. I really only do want what the Lord wants for me so it feels like a contradiction.


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