Wednesday, January 20, 2021

When you get the urge to quit

You know those days when you want to pack it all in and call it a day? 

Every time I finish writing a book, I ask myself why I do this. Sometimes, I'm ready to call it quits. Sometimes I can't wait to dive into the next project. 

We're living in a time when it's difficult to get motivated. Life is exhausting all by itself. I've found moments of respite in my writing time, moments of joy. I write because I love to write. It gives my imagination free rein, but make no mistake. It's hard work.

I've just finish writing the fourth installment in the Hillendale series (Yay! Whoop-whoop), which means I need to decide "what comes next." I have room to continue this series if I so choose, or I can move on to the next project/series. There are always ideas at the ready, and yet in the moments after the story is born, I need to rest and recover. A period of post-partum, if you will. I need to move on to cleaning up mistakes, checking for continuity, fine-tuning grammatical construction. Chipping away at overused words and words that flat out don't belong there. It's a discouraging time during which many authors have to "kill their darlings" -- words or phrases that were so fun to write, so cool to invent, words that have no place in the story. By the time that process is finished, I fall back into the "why do I bother?" phase. And then I read the finished product one last time. Most times, I fall in love with the story all over again, and that's motivation enough to continue.

And then there are the times when I doubt my ability to write "like that" again. Where to start? That can be a daunting task. Starting a writing project rarely begins in the proper place. It can take several chapters before you realize you've gotten it all wrong and have to start over, or you've spent those three chapters spouting information that doesn't belong, but which is necessary to the story in dribs and drabs sprinkled throughout.

Post partum depression.

Many times I'll delay writing a new book, caught in a web of writers' angst. These are some of the things that spur me on.
  1. I get impatient. My dreams become more vivid without the outlet for my imagination. Writing is a part of who I am, to the core. At the end of the day, I have to be who I was meant to be.

  2. "Practice makes perfect." In the beginning, when I was still learning the craft, I also had a day job that dominated my life--especially during peak business times. My first three books were years apart. People always tell you to write something every day, and I learned during the course of those three books how important that is. As with anything else, if you don't practice your art, you get rusty. Filler words creep back into my manuscript, I miss those places where I repeat words, and my sentence structure starts to look shaky. Run-on sentences. Comma splices. I keep going so I don't "forget" how to write, even if what I write is nonsensical.

  3. I read a book. I'm often inspired by other authors, either the quality of their writing or their storytelling ability. Even if the book is "bad" (reading is subjective), I find things to avoid in my own writing.

What do you do to "Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again?"


  1. I'm just about at that phase. I have to finish my first round edits this week, then deal with all the publishing and marketing tasks of getting a new book out there. The curse and the blessing of being an indie author. To fill some of the time with a creative outlet, but not sure where to go next, I wrote a short story that I'll be offering to my newsletter subscribers.