Sunday, April 20, 2014

19 Question of the Week: Have You Ever Quit Writing?

May there be many books,  much hope, and all the chocolate you need in your day today!

Martina, Jan, Alyssa, Lisa, and Clara
The ladies of AYAP

Hey everyone! Clara Kensie here. Pretty much the only thing writers love as much as books and writing is talking about books and writing. So each week at Adventures in YA Publishing, we’ll post a question for you to answer. The questions cover all topics important to writers: craft, career, writers’ life, reading and books. Together we’ll become better writers by sharing tips and discussing our habits and practices.

Question of the Week
April 20, 2014
Have you ever given up writing? Why? What brought you back?

Jan Lewis: Yes! I gave up on writing when I was pregnant with my youngest. Between the exhaustion and the morning sickness that lasted the entire pregnancy, I just didn't have the energy for it. And of course while I wasn't writing, the doubts crept in. "Am I really a writer if I haven't written for a year? Maybe I don't have what it takes." What brought me back? Martina did.

Martina Boone: This is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I am horrible about trusting myself. I started writing seriously when my son was a baby, and I wrote a few picture books that came close to publication. I snagged a wonderful agent, a superstar agent, who intimidated the crap out of me. And then I decided to write an adult novel. My first adult novel. Without a clue what the heck I was doing. Seat of the pants stuff.

Needless to say, my superstar agent dropped me after reading it, without saying why or providing any feedback. I was devastated and figured I wasn’t meant to be a writer. We were short on money then too, so I started a business and worked about 18 hours a day for a while on top of having two little kids. I told myself that I was too busy to write. I made all kinds of excuses. Then my daughter started reading young adult books, and I fell in love with the genre and started to dip a toe back in. I started Adventures in YA Publishing to learn how to write an actual novel, and I’m still learning from our wonderful guest authors and from Clara, Lisa, and Jan. Not to mention all the wonderful bloggers and authors online. If you want to be a writer, if you want to write a book, if you want to reach people because you have something to say, then here’s my advice. DON’T give up. Don’t diminish your dreams. Write and you’re a writer, even if you’re only managing to write 50 words a day.

Lisa Gail Green: We've all had those feelings that surface when we reach the bottom of the roller coaster where we feel like throwing in the towel. But if you do that then you can NEVER achieve your dreams, so why not try? I am, have always been, and will always be a proponent of encouraging others to work hard and keep trying. I've had points in my life where I put writing on hold, but I hadn't truly committed yet. Since I started doing it seriously? No. I have come close as anyone, but have not quit. I've kept moving forward, sometimes at a slower pace than others, like when I had my third child, but I've never given up and I have no plans to!

Clara Kensie: I met with some author friends recently, and we discussed this topic. The takeaway from that discussion was a quote from author R.A. Salvatore: “If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit, then you are a writer.” That quote really resonated with me. Yes, there have been times I’ve wanted to quit. Times when I wonder why I got myself into this. Times when I wonder if the struggle is worth it. Last February, my agent (the amazing Laura Bradford) was the unfortunate recipient of an email in which I poured my heart out after a particularly discouraging month. Her frank response got me back on track, and it still keeps me afloat: “Would you stop writing (because of this)? Of course not. You are going to keep writing no matter what.” Yes, I am going to keep writing. No matter what. I can’t quit, even if I tried.

YOUR TURN: Have you ever quit writing? Why? What brought you back?


  1. I'm on a 'writing break' at the moment with the intention of seeing whether I'm drawn back in a few months. Part of my problem is the work associated with my PhD is crippling me and, with no success on the writing front, it's easier to throw in the towel. We'll see.

    1. School can be so hard. I'm in awe of everyone who manages to juggle it along with everything else life throws at us! I hope you'll do some writing just for yourself! And reading! That way you get the inspiration to fuel your creativity and hopefully, you'll recharge and come back to it sooner when you're over your PhD grind. Hang in there!

  2. I couldn't quit. I'd feel so unfulfilled!

    So, alas, even though writing makes me CRAZY, not writing is even worse.

    1. Hope it makes you less crazy soon -- and wishing you all success! : )

  3. Yes, during the dark period of my life while in an abusive marriage. After I got out, it and my children and God were my salvation and my road back to sanity.

    1. So glad you're out of that situation, Traci! Wow. Thanks for sharing that with us and giving us all an extra kick of inspiration!

  4. I've never officially quit writing. When my kids were little I didn't write for several years, but I always knew I would write again. Now that I'm more serious about my writing than ever I can't imagine quitting, even if I never made "the big time". Lol

    1. The odds are so great against the "big time" and it truly comes down to luck so often. Also, I'm not so sure that the "big time" is easily or universally definable. All we can do is work to get our writing up to punishable levels and then write and write and write until we find the right story and lightning strikes. Here's hoping it strikes for you soon!

  5. There have been times when my health affected me and made me question writing. I go months sometimes without working on my writing, then get depressed. Someone once told me that NOT doing what I love can cause the depression, so I try not to let too much time slip away without writing anymore.

    1. That's really wise, and I think there's a lot to be said for that. My brain sparks when I'm writing, even on the days that I want to pull out my hair. I'm alive when the words spill on the page in a way I'm not any other time, and I think that's probably a really good observation about that warding off depression. It comes down to passion, so it's great that you've identified that in yourself. I'll bet anything it shows on the page, too.

  6. After my divorce several years ago, I took a break from writing. Things were kind of wacky and wonky in my life. But I couldn't stay away long. I slipped back into the hobby soon after.

    1. Angela, as serious and dedicated as you are about this, and given how many people love your Shadow Jumpers series, I'm not sure it qualifies as a hobby anymore : )

  7. I wrote for 5-6 years after my daughters hit school-age. Then I was a single mom and had to work, and I felt like I was going nowhere with my writing, so I quit. Some close calls (an R&R) but I figured editors just didn't like my style of writing. Ugh, I even threw out all my manuscripts! (luckily my niece has copies of some of them). Then I remarried in 2008 and didn't have to work--so boinnggg! back to writing I went. After saying I never would again. Ha! It just...fulfills me. :)

    1. Wow, Carol! I'm so glad your niece has those manuscripts! You're going to need them soon as people discover THE BODY INSTITUTE! : )

  8. I had an agent at 16 for writing teleplays and episodic TV. Had some real near misses with some top shows, but no sales. Had plays produced in college and sold a pilot just after graduate school. Helped polish screenplays - freelance and then one day - THUD. I dropped it all for nearly twenty years. SCBWI brought me back to life and boy am I glad they did. I'm starting down the writing road again with wonderful people. This time I'm a lifer.

    1. How did I not know this about you, Leslie? So many parallels! SCBWI was one of the first things I did once I'd gone back to writing. And instantly, I met the most amazing people, and they (and you) recharged me. Such a fabulous organization!

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  10. Sometimes I can feel myself headed toward that "burn them all - they're no good" state. That's when I know I need a "writer's break." I back off some, but for me a 'writer's break' is kind of like a workaholic being "retired."
    In any case, it's not a career I'm pursuing, but rather a side-passion that won't let me stop. :)

  11. After my beloved writing group of 4 disbanded after one member moved to California, and I was tired of feeling sick to my stomach over all the stress of querying, I QUIT. Like Ross and Rachel, I was "TAKING A BREAK".

    Then, a week later, I read some political article, and started a brand new story. I put aside the one I'd been querying, and just fell in love with something new.

    Then, a month later, a publisher that I assumed (you know what "assumed" means) just forgot about me, made me an offer of publication. And I've been happy ever since.

    AND, my stomach doesn't hurt anymore. Here I even went to the doctor about it, and it was just stupid query stress killing my gut. Not even kidding. Stress really can harm a person. Take care of yourself and good luck to all.


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