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The Aspiring Writer: When you feel like giving up

writer giving up


It’s been a while since I’ve written a post in my ongoing, although spasmodic, Aspiring Writer series, but I thought this would be a good one to add.


Have you ever felt like throwing it all in?

Every writer feels like giving up at some (or many) stages of their writing. Whether you’re in the throes of your first draft, or knee-deep in editing your umpteenth draft, there will be many times when you feel like throwing it all in.

Most times, this feeling passes. Whether you take a walk to clear your head, give yourself a few ‘writing-free’ days, or continue powering on, the urge will subside and you will rediscover your mojo and continue on.

But, what if that feeling doesn’t pass, or what if it seeds yourself in your brain and begins to take over?

With the rise of social media, we’re often drawn into the trap of putting forward ‘our best self’. We talk about our wins, and brush off our disappointments. Instagram is full of beautifully stylized picture-perfect moments or fragments of the best parts of our days. Sure sometimes the #keepingitreal hashtag raises its head, but they too are often carefully chosen.

But, sometimes writing feels too hard, pointless and fruitless. Sure, writing for yourself is a noble pursuit, but what if it’s not enough?

You want to be published, you want to be recognised, you want to be acknowledged. And not just by your mum or best friend.


It’s important to talk about these feelings.

So let’s talk!

Here’s some thoughts that have been going through my mind. A combination of self-doubt and the grass is greener.

  • I’m really crap at this and I’ll never be published
  • My writing is more than a hobby, yet, it doesn’t bring in any money, and is highly likely it never will. (Even if it does, it won’t be much to brag about!)
  • The actual writing process can be lonely and isolating.
  • I should just chuck it all in and focus more on our business, and get a real part-time job that will be financially helpful, and less isolating.
  • Will anyone actually care if I don’t continue to write? Probably not.



So, what to do?

Do I need a break? Do I need to stop aiming for the dream of publication to start enjoying writing again? Do I just need to get over myself and keep writing?

There are many reasons that you will feel like quitting. Maybe I’ve covered some of them here, maybe for you it’s entirely different. But, the one thing I do know – above all else – is that I will continue to write and so will you.

I know I will begin to enjoy it again, because when it comes down to it, writing makes me happy; it brings me joy.

I think the answer lies in…


Letting Go

During my time at Fiona McIntosh’s Masterclass, she let us in on a secret – one that I can’t repeat here, because, well, it’s a secret – but what I can say is that the crux of the message was don’t let writing define you. Don’t let your writing become your value as a human. No one is interested in whether or not you write, or give up. Sure, your family, supportive fiends and fellow writers will urge you to keep going, but in the whole scheme of things, it’s not the be-all and end-all to anyone, including you. Writing is just writing. If you love it – do it. If you don’t – don’t.

Let go of the pressure. Let go of the goals. Let go of the writing ‘to-do’ list in your head – you know the one; write every day, build your author platform, analyse the writing process, call yourself a writer – that one. And try not to buy too much into the “I love writing, I can’t not write, I am a writer” – talk. Yes, it’s lovely and inspiring, and even important to a point, but don’t let it define who you are.


The Take-away

  • Writing is tough and there will be countless times you feel like giving up. Let them come, but don’t let them settle.
  • Remember why you write, but don’t let it define you..
  • Don’t mortgage the house on your end-goal – write to enjoy it first and last.
  • Share the times that you feel low. Not just the wins, and not just when the actual writing is tough – the other stuff, like when you seriously feel like tossing it all in.
  • Read. It helps you to remember why you love story.
  • And if you really need to, take a break and just see what happens.


Have you ever felt like throwing it all in?
Like really throwing it all in?