9 Reasons to Quit Writing

The publication journey isn’t easy, no matter how you approach it. I’m always encouraging people to be patient, persevere through the obstacles, and doggedly pursue their dream. For some people, this means persistence through years or decades.

But… is there a time when you should give up? Maybe so. I could be wrong but I think there are a few signs the publishing journey is not for you.

Death to Laptop

You may want to stop pursuing publication if…


1. You’re only doing it for the money. (In the majority of cases, the money’s not that great.)

2. You expect the publication journey to be anything other than the hardest job you’ve ever done. (The ups and downs alone can drive you crazy.)

3. You have an aversion to hearing bad news. (The path always seems to be strewn with little firebombs.)

4. The thought of using social media to promote your book still gives you hives. (It’s just reality, period.)

5. You think Tweeting “Check out my book!” constitutes a good social media strategy. (That’s so 2010.)

6. You expect to receive only four- and five-star reviews on Amazon. (Even War and Peace has 1-star reviews.)

7. You believe selling one book to a publisher means you’re a shoo-in for selling more. (This is only true if your sales on that first book are through the roof.)

8. You truly believe your book is better than all the others out there. (You may be a tad unrealistic.)

9. You think anything else—anything—might make you as happy as writing does. (Because if so, you should go for it!)

Feeling like staying in the game? Congratulations! This journey is for you!

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. […] The struggle to sustain the writing life is both physical and emotional. Blake Atwood shares 4 ways to create and maintain a writing habit, while Rachelle Gardner goes the other way and gives us 9 reasons to quit writing. […]

  2. Sarah Rexford on February 14, 2019 at 12:20 PM

    Wow, love these. So relatable! Definitely in the ups and downs right now as I receive rejections, some “positive” rejections, and keep waiting for an acceptance. Thankfully I’m in it for the journey, and not just the end product (or else I would have backed out a long time ago!). Thanks for the post!

  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on February 13, 2019 at 1:31 PM

    The devil came to see me
    and his eyes held real concern.
    he didn’t seem, not really,
    like someone who’d watch me burn.
    He shook his head and gently sighed,
    “I think you’ve done enough.
    I know how very hard you’ve tried,
    and watching you is rough.
    You throw yourself upon the blade
    of each fell night and morn,
    and I’ve got to say, you’ve played
    so well, even I am torn.”
    But while he saw me as a quitting pawn
    I saw, past him, another dawn.

  4. Maco Stewart on February 13, 2019 at 1:19 PM

    These are true, and they’re funny!

    Thanks, Rachelle.

  5. This Week in Favs… | Melinda S. Collins on September 25, 2013 at 2:22 PM

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  7. Sean Kinn on November 23, 2012 at 11:37 PM

    Wow, do I have a lot of respect for you guys. My largest detractors have been people and day jobs, but I let neither slow me down (much). I’m sure I didn’t like rejection notices at first, but then I started framing them to hang on the wall, and now they fill a digital frame on my desk so I can review periodically while saying “nanny nanny boo boo” – as I am the most persistent person on the face of the planet. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  8. » Bookmark Monday! R.S.Sharkey on November 19, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    […] 9 Reasons to Quit Writing I’m always encouraging people to be patient, persevere through the obstacles, and doggedly pursue their dream… But… is there a time when you should give up? […]

  9. Friday Features #29 - yesenia vargas on November 2, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    […] 9 Reasons to Quit Writing by Rachelle Gardner at Rachelle Gardner […]

  10. The List List #31 on November 2, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    […] at Rachelle Gardner’s Blog, 9 Reasons to Quit Writing […]

  11. Tim Klock on November 1, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    My biggest obstacles are these (in no particular order): myself, no computer for a long time, then no printer after I got another computer, having a family of 5,a full-time job, caring for aging parents every day, unable to type ( a one-eyed chimp with arthritis could type faster),and VERY little spare time. But I STILL can’t think of anything I’d rather be than a full-time writer.

  12. […] For writers just starting out on the journey, Mariam Kobras has 10 tips for beginning writers. For writers wondering if it’s time to hang up the pen, Rachelle Gardner has 9 reasons to quit writing. […]

  13. Deborah Gambrel on November 1, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Learning how to be a professional writer sometimes feels discouraging. You quickly learn that it takes time to polish your work. For myself I find it hard to move past the “do not” rules in my writing and focus on doing my best and later on expecting to improve.

  14. Marielena on November 1, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    I’ve wanted to quit so many times — and almost have. And then I write yet again. I’m either a masochist or writing is something I must do, like a salmon swimming upstream.

    And even now, as I’ve watched disaster unfold around me (we’re in the Philly area right next to NJ and NYC, but we’re doing OK), I am wanting to write about all this, and will.

    So perhaps I keep writing because in a way it is also therapy for me and a way of healing and sharing life’s pains … as well as a way of rejoicing, when life shows us the true and loving heart of humanity.

  15. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 1, 2012 at 4:01 AM

    There is one thing which might make me quit.

    Google Chrome.

    It’s the Edsel of browsers, and my computer won’t let me get rid of it.

    I’ve told the HP that I still have my old portable WW2 Royal….AND I KNOW HOW TO USE IT.

    Be afraid, computer. be very afraid.

  16. Rene on November 1, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    Youre right not only writing but all task should be done with passion and a mindset of contributing others and adding value, then money will come along and if it doesnt you will still gain more important things

  17. […] in turn, leads us to Rachelle Gardner’s (@RachelleGardner) 9 Reasons to Quit Writing. No punches pulled, […]

  18. […] 9 Reasons to Quit Writing – “The publication journey isn’t easy, no matter how you approach it. I’m always […]

  19. Kristin Laughtin on October 31, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    10) Ties in with some of the above, but: you can’t take criticism. Because you are going to get it. From your agent, from your editor, from reviewers, from readers. The first two are trying to help you, but some of the latter won’t care about your feelings.

    11) You can’t make deadlines, because again, you will have to.

  20. Barb Haley on October 31, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    A few years ago, I had three kids books published and ghostwrote a few others for pay. Since then, I’ve written two more kids books and my first novel but have not had any success getting them published. Here’s why I’ve considered quitting. I write to provide clean Christian entertainment with an embedded message. If my work is not being published, I wonder if I’m being a good steward of my time. I’ve wondered if God really wants me writing right now. I’ve sat out for almost three months and miss it terribly. I struggle to reconcile the strong desire in me to write with the desire NOT to waste time if God would want me doing something else. I would REALLY love to hear what others think about this.

    • Joe Pote on October 31, 2012 at 5:30 PM


      Rather than quitting writing, you might consider self-publishing with a POD publisher, such as CreatSpace and/or e-publishing via Kindle or Nook.

      These are very inexpensive ways to break into publishing.

      Are you likely to see huge sales? Probably not…possible but not probable.

      Will SOME people buy your books and derive benefit from them? More than likely, yes.

      I sell just a few books each month. Not enough to really even consider income…certainly not enough to recompense the hours spent writing and blogging.

      However, I do know some people are benefiting from my book, and several have written to let me know what a blessing the book was to them.

      For me, that’s accomplishing my fundamental goal in publishing.

      • Barb Haley on October 31, 2012 at 8:36 PM

        Thanks so much for the encouragement, Joe and Carol. Maybe I need to find a balance rather than stop writing. I know that when I’m writing, I will say no to almost anything. Not because I should do so, but because I’d rather write than almost anything else. I will definitely pray about self-publishing. I also have a yearly assignment writing devotionals. I would never consider stopping that. Since I’ve stopped writing, I’ve been reading like crazy and realized, anew, how much fiction touches the heart. I think I will start writing again and ask God to show me clearly if He desires for me to be doing anything else at the same time. Then I will relax and enjoy the gift He has given me. Thanks again for your kind words!

    • Carol J. Garvin on October 31, 2012 at 5:51 PM

      Writers dreaming of publication usually think that’s the ultimate goal — once published you have it made. Your situation reminds us that getting one book (or several) published is no guarantee that future ones will also be picked up.

      When I prayed about spending my time writing, I got a clear feeling that God didn’t consider it a frivolous activity but I was meant to hone and use it as one of his gifts. I realized it wasn’t a matter of writing or not writing, but of what I did with my writing that was important. I find joy in creating fictional situations, but also in writing devotional material, and reaching out to encourage cyber friends and share reflections via my blog.

      I hope you persevere with your writing since you seem to love it, and soon find an appropriate outlet.

  21. Jaime Wright on October 31, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Darn it. I thought I was destined for wealth and prosperity. 😉

    • Joe Pote on October 31, 2012 at 5:24 PM


    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 1, 2012 at 4:07 AM

      Maybe you are. Maybe it’s just over that next sunrise.

      After I self-published, I thought my destiny was to make 33 cents on each $0.99 book on Kindle.

      Then an ‘author-subsidy’ publisher contacted me – with a straight royalty offer.

      I can go to Barnes and Noble in Albuquerque and see my book on one of the feature tables…the money isn’t there – yet – but I’m a lot further than I thought I’d be 18 months ago.

      And the day before it happened, the morning it happened, I thought, too, that it never would.

  22. […] 9 Reasons to Quit Writing | Rachelle Gardner Rate this:Share this:StumbleUponRedditLinkedInEmailTwitterGoogle +1FacebookPinterestTumblrDiggLike […]

  23. Dawn Pier on October 31, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I write because I believe it is what I was put on this planet to do, because I believe that something I write will touch someone in a way that will be meaningful to them and because it makes me feel good. If I make a little dough along the way that will be a bonus.

  24. Brian Henwood on October 31, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    I spend some time here reading up on everyone’s progress. I occasionally participate in discussions, but if I am honest with myself, I am not really persuing publishing. Three submissions in two years is hardly trying to become published. I self-publish a couple of copies for myself and to pass to my family and friends, but that’s really it.
    So my reason for “giving up”: it’s no fun. As crazy as it sounds, I HAVE to write. My stories do not HAVE to be read.
    Is it weird to not care if anyone ever reads the stories I labor over for months?

    • Elissa on October 31, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      Probably not. My sister writes just for herself. She doesn’t like to share, and she doesn’t revise or make any attempt to perfect her writing. She says once the story is “on paper” she’s accomplished her goal.

    • Joe Pote on October 31, 2012 at 5:24 PM

      Nope! Not weird, at all.

  25. Rebecca Vance on October 31, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    My issue wasn’t deciding to quit, but to start. I started this journey later in life than most. I was forced into an early retirement, so I had more time on my hands. Years ago in college, I wrote some short stories. I never pursued it and went on with a career in customer service. I made all kinds of excuses, no computer, no time, etc. I then come to realize it was fear that kept me from it. This was before the internet, so I thought with all the writers pursuing publication, my attempts would be a lost cause. There are so many options open now, yet I find myself still leaning toward traditional publishing. I’ve come full circle. How crazy is that?

  26. Sue Harrison on October 31, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    This is such a great post, Rachelle. So many would-be writers see only dollar signs when they begin!~

    A few more things (besides all you listed!) that I have overcome to pursue my writing career include:

    1. The death of my genre
    2. Discouragement from friends (you’ll never make it…)
    3. An overwhelming parent care situation that didn’t STOP me from writing but did reduce my writing time to such small snippets that I didn’t write anything worthwhile for 5 years
    4. Impatience

    And still, writing is one of the great joys in my life!!

  27. Carol J. Garvin on October 31, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    10. If you think good writing comes naturally and you don’t believe you need to learn about the craft.

    • Elissa on October 31, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      Yes! This is true for every creative endeavor. My husband is a “gifted” musician because he practices every day.

      I write because I haven’t mastered the craft. I’ll quit once I do.

      • Rebecca Vance on October 31, 2012 at 1:41 PM

        I’m new at this, I admit. I think that you will probably never quit then, if this is a criteria. I don’t think we ever master it, do we? I think it masters us! 🙂

        • Elissa on October 31, 2012 at 3:01 PM

          Well, yeah, that was my point. 😉

  28. Kim Kasch on October 31, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    The hardest job…I ever loved … hum that’s parenting but “write” behind it is writing for publication.

    I will always write. Can’t seem to stop. The first book I ever submitted for publication was a book of poems, in grade school, to Random House. I actually got a handwritten rejection letter back in the mail. 😀 Memories…

  29. Julie C on October 31, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    May I link to thi article on my blog? It ties in well with a recent post I wrote. Thanks!

  30. Jay Faubion on October 31, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    I disagree some, particularly with item 9. “You think anything else—anything—might make you as happy as writing does. (Because if so, you should go for it!)”

    Lots of things make me happier than writing. And if I wasn’t going to derive some income at the end of the trail. . . well, I’m not sure I’d go down it.

    But do I enjoy the writing? Absolutely.
    Does the Lord speak to me as I write and plan? Yes, He does.
    Would I give it up lightly? Nope.

    • Joe Pote on October 31, 2012 at 5:22 PM

      Sounds like your perspective is similar to my own, Jay.

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 1, 2012 at 5:11 AM

      Great thoughts, well-said.

      The question of ‘enjoying’ writing in preference to other stuff doesn’t really enter into my life. Circumstances make the physical process of writing – along with everything else – acutely uncomfortable. But ya gotta do something with your time!

      I do it because I think the stories are worth telling, they may bring someone a bit of hope.

      That alone is worth the obstacles.

  31. […] 9 Reasons To Quit Writing  Although this is a short list post…it’s worth taking a read and checking out.  And then amending your expectation levels if you’re on the start of your Indie Publishing journey. […]

  32. Brad Boney on October 31, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    I am a brand new writer in the romance genre and just got my first book contract through one of the smaller presses. I was curious about #4 and thinking tweets with “Check out my book!” are so 2010. I laughed because I’m guilty. Can someone point me to a post on this blog that discusses the elements of a successful social media strategy? I plan to spend all day reading this blog since I see so much good stuff, but if there is one post in particular that covers that, I would love to know. Thanks!

  33. Ann Bracken on October 31, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    When I was nine I decided I wanted to be a scientist. I took the classes I needed to get into college. I majored in chemistry, minoring in physics and math. My first job was testing environmental samples for radioactive contamination (and you thought it was my glowing personality!). My second was working with medical devices. My third is in pharmaceuticals, where I’ve found my home. After twenty years of experience, and returning for my masters, I’m a senior scientist.

    Why should I expect mastering writing to be any different? Hopefully it goes a little faster…

  34. Robin Patchen on October 31, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    Always such a great blog and great comments. One obstacle I’ve overcome–and am still overcoming? Writing badly. Like I always tell my kids, if you want to do something well, you first have to learn to do it badly. So in this line of work, that means I must write, even if I know as the words are appearing on the screen that they’re terrible. You can’t get to “great” until you’ve achieved “good,” and rarely does “good” show up without its precursor, “bad,” or even, “awful.” One step at a time.

  35. Cherry Odelberg on October 31, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Well now, that’s realistic advice. Thank you.

  36. Janet K. Brown on October 31, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    This is right-on. One thing I’d suggest is quit writing. Do not write @ all. If you’re still sane at the end of a month, quit.

  37. Meghan Carver on October 31, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    My obstacle every day is how much time to spend writing and how much time to spend with my children. The children grow so fast, and it seems that my time with them is slipping away too quickly. Yet, writing makes my whole day better. There’s a delicate balance there somewhere. Some days I get it right. Some days still need a whole lot of work. I’m not quitting either the writing or the children.

  38. 9 Reasons to Quit Writing | Page Pounders on October 31, 2012 at 11:05 AM

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  40. Cynthia Washburn on October 31, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    So many writers talk about pain and suffering. Once I gave up
    trying to go the traditional route (fortunately I didn’t let this
    period drag out) I have found it fulfilling and rewarding (not
    monetarily and not the formatting!) to publish through Amazon.
    I’m satisfied to make a modest amount and pleased that a few, and hopefully, growing number will purchase my books.

  41. Jon on October 31, 2012 at 10:32 AM


    Loved this one

    You think Tweeting “Check out my book!” constitutes a good social media strategy. (That’s so 2010.)

    So true. I log into twitter and see a NON STOP steam of people saying

    Buy my book, check my book out LOL we all do it and its utterly WORTHLESS

  42. Beth K. Vogt on October 31, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    You may want to quite writing if … you are your own worst enemy. Why I feel the need somedays to trip myself up, I don’t know. There are enough obstacles along the writing road –see # 0-9 — without me stumbling over my own feet. Like Wendy said — gotta ignore my “swampy head” (or to stick with my analogy, gotta get around my big feet) and keep moving.

    • P. J. Casselman on October 31, 2012 at 5:03 PM

      Remember, when you feel the need to trip, grab a friend’s shoulder and let them help steady you. Sometimes it’s a flesh and blood friend, sometimes it’s a friend who shed His blood.

    • Beth K. Vogt on October 31, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      Must. Type. Slower.
      And better.

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 1, 2012 at 4:13 AM

      Beth, no! If you’re your own worst enemy, it’s a sign that you’re doing something right – if you keep going.

      I may be old-fashioned, but I think that when I seem to trip myself up in writing, that’s the Devil trying to prevent me from putting something on paper that he never wants the world to potentially see.

      For the Navajo, that would be Coyote…the one who’s responsible for bringing up the gust of wind that always seems to blow away a dropped piece of paper just before you can reach it.

      I’d say that if you’re fighting a battle to write, it’s not really an inner battle.

      • Beth K. Vogt on November 1, 2012 at 9:36 AM

        Interesting perspective.
        Mulling … mulling …

  43. Joe Pote on October 31, 2012 at 10:16 AM


    I can’t agree with #9.

    IMHO, anyone who sees publishing as a requirement for their personal happiness or sense of fulfillment probably shouldn’t be writing.

    It would just be too disouraging, and too full of emotional highs and lows…

    • Beth K. Vogt on October 31, 2012 at 10:32 AM

      Even on after a bad day writing, Joe, I still wake up the next day and want to go after it again.
      So, yeah, that whole “I’m happy when I’m writing” thing? I get it.
      In a weird-twisted-writer way.

      • Joe Pote on October 31, 2012 at 10:52 AM

        Don’t get me wrong. I love writing and blogging.

        However, being published is not essential to my happiness.

        • Beth K. Vogt on October 31, 2012 at 11:37 AM

          Got it, Joe.

    • P. J. Casselman on October 31, 2012 at 5:01 PM

      I think it’s a matter of occupational choice, Joe. For me, writing isn’t an occupation, it’s a hobby. So I’m perfectly happy with my day job. For those that want to make a living at it, they have to see it as their calling it will eat them up when things are tough.

      • Joe Pote on October 31, 2012 at 5:21 PM

        Yes, same here, Jim. Which is likely why I made a distinction on that one point.

        Like you, I’m perfectly happy with my day job and consider writing more of a hobby/ministry.

        It definitely is of value to me; otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. However, I don’t see it as essential to my happiness.

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 1, 2012 at 4:16 AM

        That’s so true. It’s that way with almost all forms of self-employment…what might start as a hobby takes on a different personality when you depend on it to let you eat.

        For me, the issue is neatly summed thus: I’ve never heard of Welder’s Block.

        But the other..!

        • Joe Pote on November 1, 2012 at 10:02 AM

          “Welders Block”

          Hah! Love it…and so true!

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 1, 2012 at 4:22 AM

      Agreed, but to some degree the highs and lows are under our control. I used to do work that required me to control both my breathing and heartbeat through biofeedback, and it provided some excellent perspectives on controlling emotion, as well.

      Writing’s different from painting or sculpting (for me) in that it’s far more directly a means of communication with The World. While I’m pleased to see my as-yet-unpublished books as files on my computer, I’m far more fulfilled by seeing my book at the mall.

      The long dry of not being published honestly didn’t bother me, even when I was unemployed. Emotion was not useful; continued effort in good heart was, and I could control that.

      • Joe Pote on November 1, 2012 at 10:03 AM

        Very good points, Andrew!

  44. Patti Phillips on October 31, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Great list, Rachelle! Reminded me of my cousin who wrote about 1000 words with a storyline that STRONGLY mimicked “The Closer,” then asked how much he could get for an advance. When I let him in on the realities, he gasped and quit writing. lol

    As for me, I’d rather let someone else clean the house, service the car, etc. so I can keep writing. Putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard has kept me sane through family illness and death of loved ones. My blood runs in pure ink.

  45. Wendy Paine Miller on October 31, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Biggest obstacle = my own swampy head. It’s like hacking through the Amazon. Good thing I have a big machete.
    ~ Wendy

  46. Susan Toy on October 31, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    I would add to this list: You are impatient and/or desperate to see your writing in print.

    Great list! Thanks, Rachelle.

    • Cherry Odelberg on October 31, 2012 at 11:41 AM

      Desperation is a killer.

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 1, 2012 at 4:57 AM

        Sometimes desperation can make us find reserves we never knew we had.

        I know that in my most desperate moments my fingers worked more accurately, and my thoughts went down straighter paths. My aim was truer, and my heart focused.

        It’s partially ‘nature’ rather than ‘nurture’, but a big part of turning desperation to advantage is practiced composure – something we can nurture in ourselves every day.

  47. Lisa on October 31, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Sometimes you don’t pick profession, it chooses you. I feel like that with writing, we just exist together.

    I completely agree, it is not for the faint of heart 🙂 I like how its shaping me tougher!

  48. Richard Mabry on October 31, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    Rachelle, I’ll add an “amen” to every one of the things on your list. My major obstacle, one that I’m still working to overcome on a regular basis, is my “imposter syndrome.” That’s the one where any success is followed by the sense of “I’m not that good. It can’t last.” I keep waiting for a critic to jump up and declare that. But, until that happens, guess I’ll keep plugging along.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Sarah Thomas on October 31, 2012 at 10:48 AM

      Oh! The imposter syndrome! I thought I was the only one. I keep waiting for someone to find out that I’m incompetent to lead a Bible study or do my day job or write a book or, well, I AM a pretty good cook . . .

  49. Julie Luek on October 31, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    I just did a similar entry this week about the exchanges we make for writing–and there are exchanges. Some of them are pretty steep, so as you pointed out, you have to love the pursuit. For all its work, lack of money and rejections, it still remains the dream I have. That dream keeps me driven, focused and happy to have made the exchange.

  50. Ashliegh on October 31, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    I’m not too convinced on the Twitter bit. The majority of the Giller shortlist isn’t on Twitter.

    Twitter makes sense for community building, but it has never sold me a book. And it’s taxing. It cuts into writing time. Then again, all Internet exploits do.

  51. Jeremiah Zeiset on October 31, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    I think deep down every writer realizes that writing has obstacles. A person cannot allow obstacles to prevent them from writing, however.

    One thing that I do when I meet a new author is sit down with them and discuss the reality of publishing, even after we accepted their manuscript.

    After that, after the discussion that publishing is more about sharing a message on their heart, and less about making money, then we actually can go somewhere with the book. Our authors love when we give out free copies of their books, to prisons, or via kindle. This allows them to share their message with many, and builds awareness of their book. It’s a win-win.

    Jeremiah Zeiset
    LIFE SENTENCE Publishing

    • Julie Luek on October 31, 2012 at 8:59 AM

      I love this mission, Jeremiah. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to write this down.

  52. Cindy Huff on October 31, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    Great reminders. I realize that I had to lower my expectation of the pay scale I felt I deserved. After getting a few articles in larger pubs that paid real well it was hard to work for less. But knowing I need to build a platform I am trying to focus on exposure. I know without a platform my unpublished novel has less chance of finding a place on a bookstore shelf.
    Yes, writing is really hard. Critics are becoming more life-giving and less painful. And I have learned that all my confidence comes from the Lord.

  53. Roxanne Sherwood Gray on October 31, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    Rachelle, This post is all too true. You can’t do this job for the money, the accolades or fabulous lifestyle. 😉 You asked about obstacles. I’d be farther along this writing journey if I hadn’t been widowed and my baby hadn’t had autism. I think I could have managed with one but not both. Thankfully, I’ve got a super-supportive new husband and my little guy is doing great in school. So, now I’m doing the hardest job I’ll ever love.

  54. Michelle Barber on October 31, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    This made me smile so much – I think that means that I know the reality, am often worn out with it but am stuck with it and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s rather like being a mum.

    • Charmaine T. Davis on October 31, 2012 at 8:09 AM

      So true, Michelle. And sometimes I need a babysitter!

  55. Jackie Ley on October 31, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    Hooray I passed – 0 out of 9!

    Yes, I’ve been plugging away for more than a decade. I’m currently doing final revisions on my fourth novel. During the past decade I’ve had several agent requests for the full ms for all three previous novels. Each time I’ve received extremely encouraging feedback followed by the tantalising ‘almost but not quite’ rejection.

    I’ve had to learn to overcome the ‘poor me’ reaction. As a Christian, I’ve also had to fight the ‘what are you up to, God?’ reaction. Why get my hopes so high, only to dash them – isn’t that a bit cruel?

    Gradually though I’m learning to take every scrap of professional encouragement as another rung up the ladder. I’ve been learning through blogs like yours that most writers have to walk the coals of endless rejection which doesn’t stop when they achieve publication. Rejection comes with the job. But I cling to one of my favourite verses in Psalm 66, ‘We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.’ Abundance isn’t promised on a plate – it’s conditional on hanging in there.

    So novel number 4 is going to be the ‘breakout’ novel. And remember, you heard it here first!

    • Charmaine T. Davis on October 31, 2012 at 8:07 AM

      And may it be so, in Jesus’ name, amen!

    • Beth K. Vogt on October 31, 2012 at 10:26 AM

      Love your attitude!

  56. Kate Larkindale on October 31, 2012 at 5:52 AM

    I don’t think I could ever give up writing, but I can see myself giving up on being published. Writing is like breathing for me, but the whole trying to get published thing is more like bashing my head against a brick wall – pointless and painful.

    And you know what? Writing is way more fun if you don’t have all those high expectations at the end.

  57. Ernie Zelinski on October 31, 2012 at 5:03 AM

    I have encountered many obstacles and didn’t quit for the most part. But even after having had 750,000 copies of my 15 books sold worldwide, I still experience many obstacles, including not being able to get a publisher for books that I pretty well know will be a success. This I know: To make a decent living at this game, you have to be a 1 percenter. By this I mean that you have to be more creative and more committed (particularly to marketing) to making your book a success than over 99 percent of writers. If you aren’t, forget it.

    Having said that, I would like to share some of my favorite quotes about the writing game:

    “Writers may be disreputable, incorrigible, early to decay or late to bloom, but they dare to go it alone.”
    — John Updike

    “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!”
    — Henry David Thoreau

    “Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.”
    — Mark Twain

    “Nobody ever committed suicide while reading a good book, but many have while trying to write one.”
    — Robert Byrne

    “Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. Writing may be interesting, absorbing, exhilarating, racking, relieving. But amusing? Never!”
    — Edna Ferber

    One last note for writers: Be very careful with the so-called “book experts” wanting to sell you expensive coaching and marketing programs. The only individuals profiting from these programs tend to be the people selling these programs.

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author, Innovator, and Prosperity Life Coach
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 165,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working’
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    • Cherry Odelberg on October 31, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      Insightful quotes. Thank you for sharing.

    • P. J. Casselman on October 31, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      Thanks for the quotes, Ernie!

  58. Neil Ansell on October 31, 2012 at 4:56 AM

    The desire to write and the desire to be published are two separate things. You should write because you love it and regard publication as a great little bonus. The time to give up is when you feel that writing is only worth doing if you can get a publishing deal.

    • Jeanne on October 31, 2012 at 9:41 AM

      Great thoughts.

    • Cherry Odelberg on October 31, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      Okay, I can agree with that!

    • P. J. Casselman on October 31, 2012 at 4:54 PM

      Agreed. I don’t regret the four unpublished books I wrote. They were fun to pen. I’ll keep writing if the publishing world collapses.

    • Thefieldgeneral on November 1, 2012 at 2:10 PM

      I think it depends on your motive for writing. I know many, many writers love to write. I enjoy it, but I wouldn’t say I love it. Love of writing is not why I write. I write to be read. Being published would help me be read. If I’m not read it loses its deeper meaning to me. I want to impact people. Which is why I also speak and lead.

      This way of thinking also changed what I write. I would prefer to write novels and short funny fiction with a moral. It’s impossible for me to sustain, however. Ultimately the chance of impact is too small. I now write a blog about leadership and project management. It seems to fit better. Excellent chance for impact.

  59. Kirstie on October 31, 2012 at 2:39 AM

    The obstacles I’ve overcome are my first rejection (and second, third and fourth). What makes me feel better is friends and family take those rejections significantly harder than I do(they get angry and defensive of my work/me and I end up defending the poor agents). The only rejections that bother me are the absolutely no response rejections. I’d even accept a post-it note saying ‘not interested’ better than that.

    I believe in number nine intensely. The only thing in this world better than writing is my son’s laughter.

  60. R.A.Savary on October 31, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    My new outlook on life has been a journey, a growth process.

    My writing has been the same.

    My life, growth and writing will continue because they are all intertwined.

    As far as career, and getting published it’s kind of nice to have nowhere to go but up. Of course, I happen to be in a patient mood.

    To answer the question: I think for me to get to this point with the aforementioned attitude is overcoming a lot. I didn’t expect to be an overnight success, but I did expect – unrealistically – to have an agent and be looking at a projected publishing date by now.

    Ironically, accepting a truer reality has made me more patient and I am less inclined to hurry the steps that previously I hadn’t known existed; yet I feel stronger than ever that I will be published.

    Somewhere in all this I quit looking at the publishing aspect and decided to just write. I’m glad.

  61. Christine Macdonald on October 31, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    Getting out of my own way. I’m a road-block master. But the navigation makes me feel alive. With every turn, I’m coming home, but damned if I don’t obstruct my GPS with self-doubt and fear.

  62. Neurotic Workaholic on October 31, 2012 at 2:13 AM

    I agree with everything this list, especially #9 and #3. I’ve met writers who are incapable of accepting any kind of criticism of their work, even constructive criticism. I admit that it isn’t easy for me either if my work is criticized, and sometimes it makes me want to give up. But like you said, writers have to be willing to accept the fact that maybe they DIDN’T write the Great American Novel, at least not in their first draft.

  63. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on October 31, 2012 at 1:57 AM

    I’ve never really had much trouble with obstacles, where writing is concerned. Rejection is expected, writer’s block is an old friend who comes to tea, and having to learn social media is an interesting challenge.

    I’m really happy with my budding career, and my upbeat attitude.

    It must be the drugs.

    • Beth K. Vogt on October 31, 2012 at 10:23 AM

      Honest to a fault, eh?


    • P. J. Casselman on October 31, 2012 at 4:51 PM

      While the only drug I do is Dilantin (a whole lotta shakin’ going on), I agree that to see rejection as a part of the process keeps one’s perspective positive. Delusional optimism leads to a cliff, but an informed positive attitude builds bridges.

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 1, 2012 at 3:56 AM

        It’s part of the process, and more – it’s a way to develop personal strength.

        Occasionally in my other job I have to ‘unbend’ dents in hard aluminum. You can’t use a dent puller, and just hammering can lead to cracks, which you don’t want in an airplane.

        The trick is to heat the dent with a torch until the material’s original temper (‘strength’) is reduced. Then tap it with a hammer, repeatedly, to get the shape you want.

        The hammering process is called cold-working, and it restores the strength to the level it had before you started messin’ with it.

        When we write, we become vulnerable – we have to. The book’s a flame which opens parts of our soul, and its birth pains can be rough. I like to see the rejection process as the hammering which will give me the courage to write again.

  64. ThatGuyKC on October 31, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    I hope I’m not as delusional or ignorant of social media and publishing as someone who admitted to anything on this list. 🙂

    Thank you for the candid reminders.

    I’m working on my writing voice and building a platform (yes, I read Michael Hyatt’s book).

  65. P. J. Casselman on October 31, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    I’m still discovering my forte as a writer. My books have more rejections than Quasimodo got for prom. The key to pressing forward in my case is my belief that adjustment and development are keys to success. There’s a niche that fits a tenacious writer, so here we go again.

    • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on October 31, 2012 at 2:15 AM

      Yeah, but didn’t Quasimodo eventually hit it big with that song…

      “Ring my be-e-e-e-ellll, ring my bell! (My bell! My bell!)”

      Sorry. Couldn’t resist. I’ll pin the ‘kick me’ sign to my back now.

      • marion on October 31, 2012 at 8:06 AM


      • Beth K. Vogt on October 31, 2012 at 10:22 AM

        Ouch and groan … and proof that you need a sense of humor to survive the writing life.

        • Cherry Odelberg on October 31, 2012 at 11:36 AM

          Oh, yes, a sense of humor — and a broad background of information and experience from which to draw. I love quasi-classical references.

      • P. J. Casselman on October 31, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        I can see you hunched over the computer as you thought that one up. As Jennifer would say, “Well played!”

        • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 1, 2012 at 3:49 AM

          Gotta remember the evil giggle…hunched, and giggling evilly.

          Just hunched over…far too 2010.

      • Jennifer Major @Jjumping on November 3, 2012 at 10:40 PM