The key reason I find why we stop writing is because we do not feel acknowledged.
It is hard to write into the dark void of nothingness, to fill drawers or computer folders with our priceless work that will never be seen or appreciated. Why bother? Why care at all?
Lack of acknowledgement in writing is certainly at the heart of why we stop writing, however, I’ve included this in a list of five reasons why I also stop writing:
Lack of acknowledgment/success; Lack of Direction; Lack of Constancy/Stamina; Lack of Purpose; and Lack of Skill
1) Lack of acknowledgement/Success
Every single day I fight this ugly battle against a terrible troll that says my work and my writing are meaningless. I don’t believe that I’ll get anywhere. I think I will be unsuccessful. I see everyone around me getting publishing deals, or better publishing deals or writing for a thousand magazines, and what I am doing? I’m just sitting here being rejected by every newspaper, magazine, journal, publisher, and mother (including my own). I could make a bigger difference for the world delivery pizzas or working at a bar. At least the guys across the counter will appreciate a well mixed drink. And so I stop, go into my room, and stare at my closed computer. I can’t write.
2) Lack of Direction
I have talked again and again about not writing for the money. Yes, we should write to sell, but we should not write to become a billionaire. So many foolishly after publishing a first book quit their day jobs to write full time and never make it. They think that if they write very hard they will make enough to live on. Does it happen? yes. But its a one in a 15,000,000 chance. The writing loses its purpose and heart. The writer soon frets. They need the money. If they don’t sell a book than they’ll have to sell their car, the bank will foreclose on their house…. and the list goes on. The writer stops writing. The writer stops writing, because they feel as if they have failed.
3) Lack of Constancy/Stamina
I’m not saying write every day, but I am saying write very often. I don’t write every day. I write at least five days a week, and usually rest on Sunday. But so many writers stop writing because they do not have a consistent writing practice. In very much the same way a body gets fat and lazy from lack of exercise, the writer gets fat and lazy from lack of consistent writing. When the writer starts up again, they dwindle. Their writing was based on adrenaline and not on a conditioned body. Write only during the weekends, Every other day. Three days a week. It does not matter, just write consistently.
4) Lack of Purpose
These reasons all blend together, but lack of purpose in writing breeds lack of direction. When I mean purpose I mean focused drive. Writing teacher Jane Resh Thomas once said that she did not believe she could write a book. A book was too large. But she knew she could write little by little, one chapter, one scene. And soon those little writing pieces, like bricks built upon one another, built her first book. Jane had purpose. She had a goal, a plan, and method for carrying out her purpose of completing a book. This same philosophy should be used for writing, revising, and crafting a book. So many writers lack purpose in their work and they do not have a purpose for their writing. They have a book idea but they lack the ability to produce that result. In cinema there is a person who whole job is to focus on making the story come to life, her role is the producer. the movie producer hires the director, finds the casting director, the editor, and the make up artists. They create the plan to help make the dream a reality. The writer must be their own producer. They must make a plan and plan for purpose in their work.
5) Lack of Skill
I wrote about this idea previously, about the painter and the vista, but sometimes I stop writing just because I’m so frustrated with my work. I know what I want to do, but I just can’t do it. I would read books and see how the author accomplished what I wanted to do, but it was like watching Michael Jordan dunk. I can’t dunk. I can’t even jump, how was I going to write so beautifully? so I stopped.
Skill is nurtured in the quiet and the stillness of practice. And perhaps you cannot dunk a basketball, but perhaps you can shoot an outside shot and score three points. Meaning, practice can help us learn other ways of addressing issues in our writing. But lack of skill can be discouraging. I experienced that with a nonfiction picture book I was writing. I knew what I wanted to do, but I just could not do it. However, just recently, I was struggling with a picture hook and consulted two books to show me the way out of my problem. A lightbulb switched on. It was like the veil was pulled away and I saw the mechanics behind the work. “I can do that,” I said. I finished the book, sent it to my agent. “It sings,” she wrote.
Why do I write these posts? I don’t write them for you. Did you know that I go back frequently to consult my own advice. I do this in very much the same way a cook captures recipes. I forget how to write every day. You are peering my recipe book.
Write a paragraph about each of my five points and how they relate to you.
Write a paragraph about your purpose in writing.
Write a plan of action for completing a book.