Time To Quit?

by Mike Chiero

Mr. Strathy, is there any type of sign or marker which indicates it's time to give up? I am so "stuck" and frustrated right now because I can't think of anything whatsoever to happen next in my romance novel. My first chapter, I think, is acceptable. I wrote a middle chapter the other day after running into a brick wall while attempting to write chapter two (to stay active and ward off rust). I have a pretty good idea what my final two or three chapters will consist of but other than them I have absolutely no ideas to fill in the blank pages. No clue what the characters will go through or anything. It would be so easy to quit, wouldn't it? But then I'd feel as though I was wasting my talent and be a loser full of terrible regret one day. I just don't know if I am fooling myself or have a real shot to be published one day. Any advice would certainly be appreciated, sir.

Answer: I believe every artist and writer wrestles with this problem. It goes to the heart of why we write.

On the one hand, we write because we need to. It's an itch that demands to be scratched. It's part of our natural desire as human beings to make meaning out of life. We do it for ourselves, for pleasure and fulfillment.

On the other hand, we long for success, which means being recognized and validated by other people. We want to receive a living or other types of rewards from our creations.

Unfortunately, we live in a system that rewards and validates only a handful of writers and artists (compared to the total number of people who enjoy writing).

It's a messed up system, because it makes us feel that if we don't get the recognition and validation of success, then our efforts are a waste of time. It gives thousands, if not millions, of people the message that their writing, their art, their inner lives and feelings, the stuff that makes meaning for them, is of no value unless a major corporation (like one of the
big five publishers) decides it can exploit their creations for huge profits. It takes things that are precious and invaluable to us and assigns them a price tag -- and too often that price tag says $0.00.

So what can one do?

First, have a day job. Don't ever depend on selling a story to pay bills. On Wall Street they have a saying that "must money" never wins. Don't put so much pressure on yourself to sell a book that you get frustrated and paralyzed, because that's counterproductive.

Second, embrace the idea of art for art's sake. Write for yourself. Write purely for the sake of the pleasure and the challenge of writing a great story. When you finish a work to the best of your ability, you can look for ways to share it with the world. And if you're very lucky, you might sell it to a publisher or someday be able to quit your day job, but that's beside the point. The point is the fun and fulfillment of writing things that delight the reader (including you).

If you get stuck, it's perfectly all right to set a story aside and work on something else for a while. Very often, when you return to a project after a break the solution to whatever problem was hanging you up will be obvious. Sometimes the subconscious just needs time to work on it, without pressure. Of course, you may want to schedule your return to the project.

There are lots of things you could do for pleasure and fulfillment. If writing doesn't do it for you, do something else. But if it does, don't take the pleasure and fulfillment out of it by telling yourself you must "publish or be forever deemed a loser." Don't beat yourself up because the writing process isn't as fast as you hoped.

Here's a thought...

If you make writing a lifelong vocation, and keep it fun, then even if you never sell a story in your entire life, you will still have had a great life.

P.S. You might check out this article about the different stress states writers experience...


Comments for Time To Quit?

Click here to add your own comments

Feb 26, 2016
Thanks Again
by: Mike Chiero

From the bottom of my heart I thank you, Mr. Strathy. Your words are a great help to me. I guess the saying "the pursuit of happiness usually leads to terrible unhappiness" rings true. Kind of funny that even though I have absolutely no intention of writing for a career my dream of just getting just one book published led to such misery. I have a new attitude now (just write for fun and see what happens) and with all the pressure off I feel as though things will change for the better. I very much appreciate your help, sir. I really do.

Thank you again,

Mike Chiero

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero