Wednesday, December 6, 2017

When You Feel Like Quitting by Heather Day Gilbert


Ask any author who's been at it for several years (well, except someone like J. K. Rowling or Stephen King), and they'll probably tell you they reached a point where they thought about throwing in the towel. Writing books is hard, and marketing them is unavoidable and time-consuming.

There are so many ways authors can become discouraged. 

Here are a few that might resonate with you today: 

  • Seeing other authors placing and winning in contests where you were sure you had a shot
  • Seeing other authors signing multiple-book contracts with big-name publishers while you're struggling to get one book picked up
  • Experiencing a lackluster book release after tremendous time and effort went into it
  • Putting in full-time hours on this writing job that barely pays like a part-time job (particularly true for indie authors, who handle everything about book production themselves, so there is far more time invested from the get-go)
  • Getting a string of low reviews that might be completely off-base, but they feel like a barrage of hatred for all your hard work
  • Not hearing back from agents, editors, early readers...whoever it is you've pinned your hopes on to encourage you as an author
  • Dealing with a lack of moral support from significant others/family

I can't say I've experienced all these discouraging things, but I have experienced nearly all of them. And sometimes these discouragements turn into the perfect storm and you just want to Q.U.I.T.

I reached one of those points recently—and the timing is so dumb, because I'm poised on the brink of another book release, with three books contracted in the future. But discouragement is no respecter of book release plans.

So what's the remedy? I can't tell you how many times my husband, my critique partner, my parents, or my readers, have pep-talked me when I was in a pit of despair about my author career. If I hadn't had their support, I know I wouldn't have stayed the course this long.

And to look at the bright side, accolades and awards do come along, and sometimes readers send emails that make your entire month, and sometimes you get a string of GOOD reviews, and you feel, for one beaming moment of glory, like your work is appreciated.

But when discouragement knocks you flat, there's only one way to keep moving forward (and it only works if you know you're supposed to be writing): you have to DIG DEEP AND KEEP GOING. You begin to laugh at discouragement—verily, you even come to EXPECT it—and you sit down in that chair and you write ANYWAY.

Because we know what happens if we don't—our books will slide right off the readers' radar. Sure, we can market and advertise our previous releases, but readers always want NEW and shiny books, and if we're not producing them, mostly likely our income will continue to decrease. And quite possibly our happiness will decrease, too, if we find joy in creating stories for people to read, which I think most of us do.

Please note that I'm not saying we have to write 24-7 and market like maniacs. There are definite times and seasons in life when we have to step back and take extended breaks from writing and marketing. But if we don't come back and stay in the game, we are likely torpedoing our careers, no matter our previous successes.

For me personally, I've put in too many hours and worked too hard to throw my career over just yet. Maybe there will come a day when I do, but today isn't that day. If you've been feeling discouraged about writing, but you know it's what you want to do most of all, don't rely on others to keep lifting you up. Dig deep and find the motivation in yourself to keep producing new books for your readers. I know they will thank you!

And if this post felt a bit harsh, please know that this entire article was really written as one gigantic, personal pep talk to myself. As for me, I've determined I'm going to keep writing. 


How about you? Has there been a time when you've considered giving up your writing career?


~~~~~~


HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather writes Viking historicals and contemporary mystery/suspense. Publisher's Weekly gave Heather's Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is "an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership." Find out more on heatherdaygilbert.com.

33 comments:

  1. I'm glad you didn't give up, Heather! Love your books.

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  2. Thanks for sharing! As writers, we love writing, but it sure is a tough business.

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    1. I agree! It can be so overwhelming. But over time, I do think we get really comfy with our writing voice and more comfy with the social media. TIME is really the thing I'm always fighting to get more of, it seems!

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  3. Spot on! I go through seasons frequently when I think I should quit. Amen, sister!

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    1. Don't do it, girl!!! But yeah, I totally understand!

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  4. So glad so many can relate! I always feel like a loser just contemplating quitting, but sometimes it just requires re-evaluating what I've taken on and downsizing a bit. Sometimes, it's just a season of being unproductive, but it's okay because it's necessary.

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  5. I’ve certainly felt this! Writing seems to ebb and flow in spurts and snags, yanking you along the ups and downs. Thank you for being transparent!

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    1. I agree, Anne. This whole writing life is a roller coaster. One day you're soaring high because you got a fantastic email from a reader, the next you're sinking in sadness because your book didn't even final in an awards contest. Highs and lows all the time. I think it's good to know we're not alone in the feelings that go alone with them, and that other authors are feeling it too!

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  6. Yep. Most of this. And at one point it was you who kept me going! Thank you for that.

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    1. Aw, Joy, thank you. I consider that an honor, to have encouraged you along the way!

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  7. I've considered not publishing books any more, but I'd never give up my writing career of my own free will. I have written for a newspaper and magazines for more than 30 years so writing will always be a part of me. Publishing novels is another beast altogether.

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    1. Yes, novels are a different animal! SO much marketing effort, social media effort, etc. in this day and age. I hope you go on writing for a long time!

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  8. Heather, I am printing this post out. I stopped sipping my tea as I came to "Sure, we can market and advertise our previous releases, but readers always want NEW and shiny books, and if we're not producing them, mostly likely our income will continue to decrease." THIS is where I am. Due to some family issues in the late summer and quite frankly burn out from writing and marketing non stop, I now find myself in that very pit. I am literally stuck, not having written a word in months. There's nothing like family issues and a good case of burn out to stall your writing. And because I am so miserable I know this tells me that I need to be writing. While it would be nice to have a crew of cheerleaders, I think what you say applies to me - DIG DEEP AND KEEP GOING. And that's what I'm attempting to do today. Thanks for such a motivating post!

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    1. Oh, Christine, I've so been there and still trying to pull myself out! Yes, that "Dig deep and keep going" is essential.

      Sadly, I think I've experienced a number of the points in your list, Heather. Thanks for the pep talk! :)

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    2. Wow, Christina, I feel honored! I hope this post brings you lots more encouragement. I know how that burnout feels, too. I pray your words start flowing again and you get back in the groove!

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  9. Thanks so much for your honest post, Heather. If I were to base any success on sales, I'd certainly quit. But it's those notes from readers that keep me inspired. I received an email this morning from a male reader who has loved my books. It's been so surprising to discover that men like my stories when they've been written for women. It's like God sending me the "thumbs up." LOL!

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    1. I agree--sales are so fickle! And that's awesome to know men are reading your books, too. Very encouraging when readers take time to email or write!

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  10. Been there; heck, I'm there now! Thanks for the encouragement!

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    1. So sorry you're there now. Praying that feeling will pass for you and you can keep going!

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  11. Really appreciate all these comments! Authors are such a community, and while it's only natural we're competitive with each other, I think we can be huge cheerleaders for each other, as well. Praying we all find the strength to keep going as long as we're supposed to!

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  12. Yes. Sometimes I feel like it's a curse. Life would be so much easier if I didn't write. My house would be cleaner. I'd work out more and be skinnier. I could get a job that paid more. But I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. I wouldn't be fulfilled. May you all find fulfillment as you partner with the Creator in creating.

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    1. LOL! Yes, I know...writing seems so sedentary sometimes! But you're right--we'd miss it horribly if we gave it up!

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  13. Your post resonates with me on so many levels. Caregiving and my own medical issues make my writing journey so challenging. "Dig deep and find the motivation within yourself..." Thank you for your words of encouragement!

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    1. So glad it was encouraging, Carla! It sounds like you are in one of those very busy seasons of life!

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  14. This was quite an insight, Heather! I think many times readers see their favorite authors as unattainable, divinely blessed creatures who are just a tad above them on the pedestal of life! We love your work and naturally assume others do, too. Rest assured, Heather, that we pray for your success as a writer and are behind you cheering you on. I am currently rereading Miranda Warning to refresh it in my mind and find it even better the second time around. I couldn't find my review on Amazon and wanted to re-post it. Keep writing and we'll keep reading. When your feel discouraged, remember your readers who love you and look forward to your next book. You have a definite gift.

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    1. Pam, you are a sweetie! And one of those readers I was talking about in this post who bring those highlights to the writing journey!

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  15. I've definitely been there - more than once. But I just can't bring myself to do it.

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    1. Then that definitely means you need to keep writing for now!

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  16. So, so timely, Heather. Thank you for taking time to write this! I've been battling discouragement in my career here lately too. It's good to know I'm not alone!

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    1. Glad it encouraged you, Courtney. I know we've all been there, but it really does help to commiserate a little now and then! ;)

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  17. It's funny, Heather, because I see your success & think if I was doing as good as you are I would stop feeling like such a failure. I never want to quit writing though; I love it too much. But I often want to quit hoping I'll ever be successful at it. Indie publishing kind of lets me do that, unfortunately. I can just put my books out there & let whatever happens happen. And if it doesn't, well, I'll keep writing anyway, thinking the only person I'm letting down is me.

    I know. I seem to be in a bit of a low mood today. . . . :(

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    1. I'm so sorry you're feeling low today, Sharyn. I tell you, comparison is such a real thing, isn't it? I do it all the time. I'm not sure what the answer is--to stay off Facebook and not look at other author's posts? I don't think that's possible when we're marketing our own books, especially as indies. One thing I do love about indies is that we help each other out with questions and we're quite honest about our disappointments, of which I have MANY. I think the key is just getting back up again--and of course God has to help us do that. I do find He'll send encouragement along the way, and I pray He sends you some today. Hugs to you, my author friend!

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