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When You Want to Quit Writing by Janalyn Voigt | Live Write Breathe

When You Want to Quit Writing

You thought your writing life would turn out differently. No one believes in you as a writer. Even your family discourages you from reaching “too high.” You’re stressed about money, time conflicts, or both. Paying for memberships, workshops, conferences, and advertisements has you tapped out. Platform building takes more time than you thought. You hate marketing. The sheer number of books in print intimidates you. Your book isn’t selling. The publisher you most wanted to sign with ignores your submission. A contract falls through. Your agent stops replying to emails. No one shows up to your author Q&A. Amazon’s rankings bury your book. Writing isn’t fun anymore.

Being a writer hurts sometimes, I know. I’ve suffered my share of disappointments. An editor at a writing conference praised my manuscript but couldn’t accept it because I wasn’t famous. I recovered from the rejection and submitted the story elsewhere. Negotiations fell through on the contract I eventually landed for the book. Writer’s block stymied my efforts to finish my first novel. Now I was fighting myself.

I quit writing, never understanding the sorrow that brings a natural storyteller. You can stop writing down your stories, but they don’t stop coming. The story I’d abandoned haunted me, but I ignored its siren call. Each time my writing dream threatened to resurrect itself, I tamped it down with sorrow.

When You Want to Quit Writing

Understanding the triggers can help you come to terms with your desire to quit. The main three sources of discouragement I’ve identified stem from self-image, relationships, and expectations.


Writer Behind a Book

A low self-image can sabotage a writing career. Impostor syndrome, the belief that you are only fooling everyone, can leave you vulnerable to anything that appears to confirm the worth of your writing. Becoming aware of the problem is the first step to eradicating it. Separate your emotions from your rational mind as much as possible and you’ll be able to view yourself as a writer in a truer light.



Many writers report that their family members don’t completely support them in their writing careers. While that’s too bad, it’s understandable. You can’t expect a person who doesn’t write to know the degree of dedication you feel for your writing or the depth of commitment it requires. Or your family members may actually want to support you but not know how. And those are the good scenarios.

Some people will refuse to believe in you, no matter what. If it’s a family member, you’ll need to work it out. Be careful of friendships or other associations with people who drag you down. Surround yourself with positive individuals who listen to you and encourage you to succeed.

Unrealistic Expectations

DreamingAnother source of dismay erodes your confidence from within. When you want to accomplish more than your skill level, time available, budget, or writing platform can support, disappointment is bound to follow. Dream big but also count the cost for everything you do. Setting SMART goals helps keep you on track. Laying out your plans in advance will help you see what you can reasonably expect to accomplish in a given time frame. This prevents the dampening effect of unrealized dreams.

Final Thoughts From Janalyn

Outside factors may create angst, but you control your response to them. This gives you more power over your emotions than you may have realized. You can prevail against the desire to quit writing.

It took me years to recover from giving up on writing. I had to learn that denying your true purpose in life hurts far more than pursuing it. This knowledge safeguards me.  After my return to writing, the novel I’d abandoned became my debut  novel, DawnSinger (Tales of Faeraven 1).

Outside factors may create angst, but you control your response to them. This gives you more power over your emotions than you may have realized. You can prevail against the desire to quit writing.

Over to You

Have you ever wanted to quit writing? If so, did one of the triggers mentioned in this post affect you?

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When You Want to Quit Writing @JanalynVoigt | Live Write Breathe

Written by Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt

© Janalyn Voigt
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I’m Janalyn Voigt, an author, speaker, and former social media mentor. DawnSinger and Wayfarer, the first two books in my epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, released with Pelican Book Group and will be followed by at least two more installments. I’m also working on a romantic suspense novel set in an Irish castle, but then historical fiction has a grip on me too. Being unabashedly multi-genre makes me into what some might term a reluctant rebel, but I prefer to think of myself as a storyteller.

6 thoughts on “When You Want to Quit Writing”

  1. Great post! Describes a lot of what I’m going through right now. Had some similar experiences (a novel accepted for publication 20 years ago by a press that then decided to switch to only non-fiction, stopped writing for a long while.) Recently published my debut novel with a small press. Received excellent reviews, but sales are low. Decided to go indie for my next novel.. But struggling with feeling overwhelmed — so many books and authors out there, it feels impossible to make your mark. This post was salient. Thanks!

  2. Wanting to quit because: my magazine publishers now want for free what they once paid for; fiction publisher closed; 2nd publisher released books; sales low; too much work too little time; family no longer tolerates late nights typing; too much competition; no money for caregiving responsibilities and conferences/writing (guess which one gets the funds); audit by IRS to determine if writing business is a hobby due to too low sales… should I go on?

    Decades as a writer times have changed. what once almost earned a living wage now brings in enough for dinner at a fast food place. I’d quit if the stories would let me.

    1. The money changes are discouraging, Helen. like you, I’m doing my best to keep money coming the right direction. The reason for your audit would slay me too. Never mind, the stories love you.

  3. I have not written on my manuscript since the first of the year. My biggest disappointment comes from one particular co-writer in a writing group I’m in. My characters are mean, flat, spiteful. I can’t explain why just one person’s comments affect me when there are many critiquers, but they do. Maybe I take them as a reflection of who they think I am.

    1. Hi, Anne. You aren’t alone in having a bad experience in a critique group. It’s hard to know whether it’s your perception or a crit-partner’s motivations, but sometimes a critique can be hard to swallow. I suspect the fault may be on the other end, since you are able to take advice from the other authors. I should add that the same thing happens with editors. When you are with a publishing house, you don’t get to choose your editors. Doing edits can lead to jaw clenching. :o)

      When working with a publisher, you have no say in the matter, but with a voluntary critique group, you get to choose whether to participate. If it were me, I’d weigh whether the benefits of the critique group outweigh the negative aspects. If not, I’d find a different critique group or pay an editor to help me.

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