My very first novel got published this month. I have to be honest, typing out that sentence is still really weird. Like when you get married and have to learn to start saying “my husband.”
While the weight of this accomplishment is still sinking in, it’s been an incredible learning experience, from the big spark of the idea that started it all, to holding the bound book in my hands. It’s amazing to finally see those five years of work manifest in those 344 pages.
But my road to publication as not all roses (whose is?). In fact, there were many times when that little voice at the back of my head wanted me to quit.
And that’s the thing, isn’t it? There are always a million reasons to quit, and only one reason to keep writing—because you believe in your work. In the face of early mornings, late nights, stinging criticisms, and creative doubt, sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough.
But don’t give up. I share these top five excuses to quit writing to tell you that you’re not alone in feeling these moments of discouragement—and you shouldn’t listen to them for a second.
Writing Excuse #1: This New Idea is Better
It’s hard to commit to a single idea and see it through to a full manuscript. While it took five years to write my first novel, I could easily come up with five new ideas a day.
And new ideas—they have that seductive, shiny new idea allure, like the packaging of a new iPhone. But don’t give in to the call of the new idea. It may seem more fun to chase the new idea than finish the one you’ve already got, but if you keep it up, you’ll never complete one.
Writing Excuse #2: I’ll Never Finish
As mentioned, novels require a very long, focused effort. There were many times as I wrote that it felt like I would simply never find the end, no matter how long I worked.
Later, of course, when I was thinking straight again, I knew this was irrational emotion speaking. If you keep writing every day, it’s practically impossible not to finish.
Writing Excuse #3: There’s Too Much to Fix
This one came to me sometimes after meeting with my critique group and looking at their notes of feedback. Other times I simply overwhelmed by my own edits. But it was never true.
First off, any critique partner worth their salt will have encouragement in those notes along with the rest, so hold onto that positivity (or, ahem, get new critique partners).
But more importantly, remind yourself that every novel is a total mess at some point. They don’t come out perfectly the first time. Good writing is rewriting.
Writing Excuse #4: I’m Ruining a Great Idea With My Writing
You know you somehow snagged a great idea. But something about the manuscript doesn’t have that punch you felt when you started. You’ve ruined this awesome idea, and the best thing you can do is just stop before you make it worse.
This is a truly awful creative demon. But don’t listen to it. Just take a deep breath and think through what you can do to make the scene better. See? You’ve already got a plan in place for your rewrite. NBD.
Writing Excuse #5: This is Hard
- Well, you’ve got me there. It is. It’s hard to write an entire book. But it’s so, so worth it.
The best way to fight the struggle of writing is to fall in love with the process. Make your writing time relaxing and enjoyable. Make writing friends to share the process with. Celebrate the small victories.
When you’re writing a book, there is plenty of time for self-doubt to creep in. That inner critic is going to try to stop you every way it can. Don’t listen. Keep writing. Just think about how you’ll feel when you finally reach the finish line.
You never know what might happen once you do—this could be the one that launches your whole career. But to find out, you’ve got to finish.
By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.