Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Last week I wrote an article about TENACITY and how that's a common characteristic in bestselling authors.
Authors who hope to succeed in today's modern industry likely won't do it without a strong measure of tenacity.
But that begs the question, WHEN is it time to quit? Does there ever come a point in the life of a writer when it's appropriate to stop pursuing publication?
First it's important to clarify that I'm not talking about throwing in the towel on writing. Most writers who are truly passionate about writing will likely always write in one form or another.
What I'm referring to is reaching a brick wall in our writing careers and making a choice to step away from pursuing publication. Is there ever a time when a writer needs to consider such a move—either for a short term break or even permanently?
Here are just a few of my thoughts of who might qualify for the option of quitting and why:
1. Writers who are pursuing publication primarily to become rich and famous.
I occasionally get emails from aspiring writers who are wondering how to get published "because they need the money." One recent email was from a single mom needing to support her family. She was frustrated with the process of publication because it was so slow and she had to start making a steady income.
The truth is, if a writer is pursuing publication with the goal of making money, they're going to find themselves sorely disappointed. I had to write for years without any income before I was even ready for publication. Then during the first year or two after I was published, the checks trickled in slowly (royalty checks are usually only sent out twice a year for traditional publication). I certainly didn't make enough to support my family of seven.
Let me just say, it is possible eventually to begin bringing in a steady income as an author. My income has steadily grown every year. But . . . those who are pursuing publication for the money are probably better off getting a job at Walmart for a much steadier and reliable income.
2. Writers who are sacrificing personal or family health for the sake of publication.
In the modern publication industry, writers are shouldering HUGE responsibilities. Not only are authors working on novels (sometimes multiple books in a year), but they're also writing enovellas and eshort stories to help with marketing visibility.
On top of writing, authors must also take a large role in marketing their books. Social media alone can suck the life and time from a writer, not to mention all the other more traditional forms of marketing and interacting (like public speaking, book signings, etc).
Yes, it's hard to juggle all the responsibilities. I'm the first to admit I often drop one ball or another. There are times when I don't get enough sleep, or when I can't keep up with the housework, or I have to miss an important activity. But . . . it's not all the time. For the most part, I try to keep a healthy balance between writing and real life.
But there may come a time when we need to evaluate whether the responsibilities are too great, especially if they begin to damage family life or even personal peace of mind. It's all too easy to get overly focused on the destination and forget to enjoy the journey. Taking a short term break (especially from social media) is usually a good solution to regain perspective from burn out.
3. Writers who see the act of writing as nothing more than a chore.
Cooking is a chore for me. I usually rush through the job. Even when I'm baking something I really like, I still find myself mixing the ingredients as fast as I can so that I can be done. The process of cooking isn't something that brings me pleasure. I see it as a necessity of life, and I'd rather be doing something else.
If writing begins to feel like a chore, when we rush through it so that we can get on to something we enjoy more, then we might want to consider setting aside our pursuit of publication.
That's not to say that writing is always easy and fun. No, some days writing is very hard, the words trickle out, and I have to force myself to sit in front of the keyboard. But ultimately, writing is something I crave, I long to be doing it when I'm not, and it refuels me on many levels.
Just because something is hard work, makes us weary, or drains us is not a sign that we should quit. Usually the things worth having take a great deal more effort than we realize.
But . . . if writing is a chore for an author, then usually reading the book will be a chore for the reader. Readers will know when we love what we do and when we don't.
What do you think? What are some other reasons a writer should consider quitting or taking a break? What would you tell someone who is pursuing publication in order to become rich and famous?
P.S. There's still time to enter the giveaway for an advanced copy of my next book, A Noble Groom! Leave a comment on the Valentine's Post for your chance to win!
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