Friday, July 15, 2011

Wendig on Six Reasons to Stop Writing

Free-form Friday

One of the secret fears that haunt us would-be scribblers in the wee hours of the morning, when sleep is scarce and we have no choice but to peer into the existential abyss, is the question, "Is anything going to come of our writing, or are we simply wasting our time?"

The good news is that this fear is natural and common to our species. In fact, it's necessary: we'd never bother to revise and improve if we didn't have the slightest doubt about the perfection of our writing.

The bad news is that sometimes the answer to that fearful question is, "Yes."

As Chuck Wendig explains in a PG-13 post about six signs that it's time to give up writing:
"Writing is a career that offers a tireless parade of moments emblazoned with self-doubt and uncertainty where you’re forced to ever reevaluate who you are and why you do this. You’ll often have to hold up your dream and examine it in the harsh light of day just to see how substantial it really is."
So how do you know if you'd be better off doing something else?

Chuck offers the following six signs:
  1. You’d Much Rather Talk About Writing Than Do Actual Writing
  2. You Spent Your Time Doing Everything But Putting Words On Paper
  3. Your Production Levels Are ... *Lone Coyote Howling*
  4. That Teetering Tower Of Rejections Threatens To Crush You And Your Cats
  5. You Got The Wrong Idea About Writing
  6. Writing Is An Endless Sisyphean Misery
(The "Wrong Idea About Writing," by the way, includes things like you love books, you want to work from home, you want to be rich and/or famous. "Writing," Chuck succinctly explains, "is about writing. It's about telling stories. That's why you do it.")

My aim in highlighting Wendig's signs isn't to depress you, but to make the point that until you're under contract you have no obligation to write. Specifically, you have no obligation to write novel length manuscripts and attempt to sell them to traditional publishers.

We live in a time when there's almost no limit on ways in which you can express yourself. From blogs to videos (with a detour through flash mobs somewhere in the middle), the opportunities to shout your barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world are multitudinous. (We'll ignore, for a moment, the fact that a multitude is simultaneously yawping.) Perhaps there are other media that are a better fit for your particular genius.

And if you return from the abyss with your dream intact, then it's a substantial dream that's worth pursuing.

Image: Photography by BJWOK /

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