Giving up header image

How writers can stop themselves giving up (and why I nearly did)

I have had a really hectic few months. I’m not complaining, because most of the things that are happening are really positive. However, it has meant that Write with Phil has become a bit of a secondary consideration. I’ve still managed to get blog posts out (and I’m still really proud of them – the pair on writing collaborations I think might be up there with the best posts I’ve written) but it’s been a struggle and this week I’ve thought about giving up – or at least reducing the number of posts.

I thought I’d take this chance to share that struggle, partly because it’s a bit of a self-therapy post, but also to be open with my readership about a struggle that I think all writers go through – and some questions that you should ask yourself if you’re thinking the same.

The question: should I keep going?

As a result my latest project has not progressed as quickly as I would like. It’s not an easy book to write, a definite step up from my last book, and the blog was taking up a lot of my time that I was planning to use to to write the novel.

The inevitable question started to flash across my mind – was the blog worth it? Given the lack of income generated, and the renewal charge I had to pay in at the end of the month, wouldn’t it make more sense to draw things to a close now, or at least scale things back to a monthly post? That would allow me to focus on the novel and get that done with more speed…

I’ve decided to stick it out. I’m going to keep writing the blog, and to keep the posting schedule up to once a week. Below are the questions that I asked myself.

What’s the long term plan?

Do you have a long term plan for your writing? If not, you should get one. They help focus the mind and will remind you of the aims that you have for a year (or longer), rather than the day, week or month that you’re currently experiencing.

When I look back at the post I made at the start of the year, one of my key promises to myself was to continue posting on the blog, at least once a week. That post was written in a more rational time, when the weather was colder and darker, and I had a little time to think about things. At the time, I saw the benefits of writing a weekly blog, and my challenge was to keep that going.

By looking at the post, and stepping back from the immediate moment, I was able to look at things in a more rational context. My long term goals were positive, and they were stretching. When I posted that original post, I had no idea of the situation I would find myself in seven months into 2018 – but would I have made different goals if I had?

No – I would have still written the same.

Will I keep writing anyway?

Is this the last thing that you’re ever going to write? Did you tell yourself in the long term plan that the project you’re considering giving up was your last ever? Because if you’re going to keep writing anyway, maybe you should just keep going with what you’re working on.

The blog is really good at giving me an excuse to write each and every week. Even the months were I’ve front loaded the blog for a few weeks, a final edit and check on timings keeps my mind focused. Without really trying, my mind has been dragged (sometimes kicking and screaming) back to my stories.

When I was considering writing less, I asked myself if I was going to keep writing. Because, I figured, there was no point giving up something that was helping me write (even if it wasn’t the the book I want to finish) if I was still planning on writing in the future. My blog post on quick wins came to mind, and I re-read it.

Of course I was going to keep writing – and the blog is a really good way of keeping me writing.

The other side of this coin is that if you’re going to keep writing, maybe you don’t need to finish this project right now. Maybe you have time to click to something else for a while, then return to it. If you do this, make sure that you plan when you’re going to return. Otherwise you could end up with another bit of work that gathers dust on a shelf – and never gets finished.

What can I be proud of?

Take a look at what you’re working on. Even though you’re considering giving up, there must be a reason why you started writing it in the first place. There must be something within it that you really like, be it a location, a character or a scene. Look at the best example you have and use it to motivate you to continue working on the project.

Ask some people for their thoughts on the idea, or to quickly read through the first few pages. Although it’s really early days, they might be able to give you some pointers, or at least give you a bit of a boost that it’s a good idea.

Over the last few months, I’ve made some brilliant connections with my author interviews, thought about writing in a way that I’ve done in a long way, and got some excellent feedback from people who have read my posts. This reinforced to me that I should be proud of WWP, and that it was worth continuing.

If you didn’t give up

This blog post tackles some really tricky issues for me. It’s not an easy discussion to have (even if it’s with yourself), because everything that we do as writers is beset with self-doubt and attacked by that self-critic. But I hope that it helps you ask the right questions next time you think you might be about to give up on something that you’re working on.

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