Don’t Quit

Don’t Quit

Image by PDPics from Pixabay


You may recall that I once said that all writing advice is bunk (sort of). I hold that to be mostly true. Knowing this, I’m still going to offer some advice to anyone out there who happens to be a struggling writer (hello, I’m your resident frustrated author who thinks of giving up three times a day. Welcome to my little support group. Do take a seat), because it’s something I desperately need to remind myself. Repeatedly. If there’s one piece of writing advice you should follow to the letter, it’s this:

Don’t quit.

Image by christian schwartz from Pixabay

This will be the hardest piece of advice to attempt for yourself in your writing career. It’s hard because comparison is normal and natural, and we are often so very hard on ourselves. It’s also hard because external measures of success are impossible to ignore. I won’t tell you to define your own success. Society does that for us, even if we don’t want it to.

I, for example, have been successful in writing several books, and even publishing them. But I do not, in any fashion, consider myself a successful writer. Nor will I until those publications start earning me enough that I can support myself; which is to say, that I can earn a decent living off the back of my writing.

Granted, success will look different for different people. I’m sure for someone, just getting the book out there is what success looks like to them. For others, it’s more extreme — they’ll only consider themselves successful when they’re an international best seller. But I’ve had enough conversations with people to get the impression that my version of success is pretty close to what most folks outside of the writing sphere would consider success. Whenever I tell people I’m a writer, usually the second question (after, “What do you write?”) is, “Do you do it full time?”

The answer is always, depressingly, “No, but that’s the dream.”

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

There are a few things I’m doing to that end, you know, other than writing books and attempting to get them published. Recognising my book sales aren’t going to cut it for some time, unless some miracle happens, I’ve decided to try something different. I’ve started a subscription thing through Ko-Fi. It’s quite sparse at the moment, which is why I’m only charging roughly $1.00 a month. But starting last week, I have started to post up chapters of a new novel I’ve written. A chapter a week will be going up until it’s up in its entirety, and there are a couple of other goodies in the pipeline. It’s basically Patreon, but an alternate platform (because this one has a storefront, and I really like that).

Do I have many subscribers? Uh… no. Like my book sales, my subscriber number is quite wee. But we all have to start somewhere, right? I’m not bothered, and am actually having a bit of fun with it, so there’s that.

This, too, however, is far from a success.

Image by Mirosław Gierlach from Pixabay

And that has been a bit difficult to swallow some days. Especially since, surrounded as I am by fellow writers, I see so many of my peers, both dear friends and absolute strangers, bound ahead of me in book sales and subscribers. I celebrate their successes, of course, but I admit to being a little sad that I can’t retire from my full time job to write. I’m a bit bummed that I can’t write faster, market harder or offer my subscribers something more substantial, because I am spending 40+ hours a week at a different job so I can have shelter and eat and feed my exceedingly needy cat.

But I need to remind myself, so I’m also reminding you, that the writing journey is very individual, and I cannot spend my time comparing myself to writers who do get to spend their entire days writing — either by some grand fortune or financial support from a spouse. It’s a bit silly to compare my attempts to someone who has more time in the day to write and market. Of course they have the edge (not that it’s a competition, mind). They have the time and the energy for both the writing and all the extra stuff around it.

Of course their subscriber numbers are higher, they have the time and energy to create greater value for their base.

And because of all this, of course they’ve sold more books/gotten more subscribers.

Their journeys are not the same as yours. Their situations are not the same. It’s so easy to get discouraged when it seems that everyone else is doing so well, and you feel like you’re getting left behind. It can be very difficult to not throw in the towel. I’d have quit a long time ago if the voices in my head clamouring to have their stories written weren’t so damned persistent.

Image by Elias from Pixabay

It can feel monstrously unfair. That’s largely because it is.

So, try a different perspective on your perceived lack of success. It has helped me a little bit. Try celebrating the fact that you’re pursuing your dream at all. So many people don’t, ever, or quit at the first hurdle. Some people can’t write and work full-time. But you do. You have several jobs, in fact. You’re a damned superstar! Look at you, chasing dreams and being practical at the same time. Multi-tasking royalty, is what you are. Some of those people who are fortunate enough to write full-time would collapse under the weight of all you manage to achieve.

Sure, it sucks that you have to, and you’re allowed to feel down about it sometimes. Just don’t quit. Because no one is you. No one has lived your life. No one has your voice, and it might just be your voice precisely that someone else needs to hear.

Don’t quit.

Because one day, one day, it might just happen for you. You might just be able to find yourself able to take less time at the office and more time at your own computer. One day, you might find yourself a guest of honour at a convention you’ve never even considered attending. It’s always been too grand for you. One day, you might wake up and realise that you did it. You made it.

You are that person everyone else is looking at with wide eyes, hoping to one day end up just like.

And when you find yourself there, do me a solid, and turn to all the writers struggling on their journeys, and tell us not to quit.

One day, we will make it, too.

Keep writing. You’ve totally got this.

When S.M. Carrière isn’t brutally killing your favorite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, and cuddling her cat. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, and a cuddling furry murderer. Her most recent titles include Daughters of BritainSkylark and Human.

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K. Jespersen

Unequivocally good advice for writing. 🤜🤛

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