Every writer faces it at one time or another: doubt, discouragement, fear, hesitation…basically the feeling of wanting to give up on your novel. Sometimes the last think we want to do is keep writing. Why? Well, I think it has a lot to do with writing itself; writers are introspective by nature. We have supercharged imaginations, and sometimes that can come back to bite us. Because when we start to think that maybe our books are worth giving up on, something in us actually accepts that idea as truth.
BUT I AM HERE TO TELL YOU THAT IT IS NOT TRUTH. It’s just doubt or discouragement or fear or hesitation. Whether you’re in the middle of NaNoWriMo, or chipping away at a work-in-progress, I have a feeling you might be at this place: trying to resist the urge to give up on your book.
This is not going to be a self-improvement kind of post. This is going to be an elixir of encouragement and inspiration to get you back on your feet and thinking good thoughts about your novel. If you ever doubt your art AT ALL, I hope this post will help you. And if all else fails, EAT SOME WAFFLES. I know that’s always an uplifting experience for me. Let’s go!
REASON #1: BECAUSE YOUR BOOK IS UNIQUE, EVEN IF IT’S NOT
Even if you feel like there’s nothing unique about your book – because you’ve seen everything done before – know that there is something special in your words, your style, your voice. It’s true: A LOT OF THINGS HAVE BEEN DONE BEFORE. But even if your story is simply made up of elements from a whole bunch of other stories, yours is still unique! Why? Because it’s a new collection of those things.
Think about any recipe under the sun – chefs aren’t inventing new ingredients for their recipes, are they? No. They’re just inventing new combinations. Because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As Austin Kleon says in his book Steal Like An Artist: “Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.” A lack of uniqueness is no reason why your book shouldn’t be successful, awesome, or… you know… WRITTEN. 😉
REASON #2: BECAUSE YOU WERE PASSIONATE ENOUGH TO START IT
One of the worst feelings an artist can experience is a lack of drive to create. If you’re a writer, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: that feeling of deep, dark, existential dread – that feeling of scrolling through Pinterest while curled up on your bedroom floor in the fetal position IN A PUDDLE OF YOUR OWN TEARS BECAUSE YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE WRITING ANYMORE.
But here’s the thing: you were passionate enough to start writing that book! Your creative genius was like “BRO WE HAVE TO JUST GO FOR IT” and voila, your WIP was born. If you were passionate enough about this idea to start building it from the ground up, YOU’RE SERIOUS. You’re driven! I don’t care how tired and bored and burnt out you feel right now, YOU ARE A CREATIVE HUMAN WITH A PASSION FOR WHAT YOU MAKE. And that passion hasn’t abandoned you. All you have to do is remember why you started writing it. Reignite your drive.
REASON #3: BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING
A lot of times, I struggle with feeling unqualified and lost. Sometimes I don’t even know much about what I’m writing. I’m not an expert (at anything, really.) But here’s the cool thing: you’re reading this blog post. Which means you know how to read. Which means you can Google anything (or just ask Siri) and figure out whatever it is you feel “unqualified” for not knowing.
The only reason why other people are more qualified in a specific topic is because they have spent more time studying that topic. Show me one Civil War historian who was actually a part of the Civil War; show me one doctor who has actually experienced every symptom of every disease; show me one physicist who has actually observed the ends of the universe with their own eyes. Experts often don’t learn from experience. Experts more often learn from reading and exploring. And yeah, sometimes it’s a lot to learn. But you know what you’re doing! And the cool thing is: you have the ability to know even more.
REASON #4: BECAUSE IT’S GOING TO BE SOMEONE’S FAVORITE BOOK ONE DAY
To me, this is one of the coolest and most motivating reasons to keep writing your book – because one day, someone is going to read it! THEY’RE LITERALLY GOING TO READ ALL THOSE SCENES AND CHARACTERS AND CONVERSATIONS YOU PLAYED OVER AND OVER IN YOUR BRAIN. That, in and of itself, is a phenomenon… but imagine that future reader saying, “This is my favorite book!” You’ve got to visualize this stuff, my friend. I know you have an incredible imagination (you can’t hide it from me MUAHAHAHA) so see it in your mind’s eye! Imagine your book, published and sitting on a shelf next to some of your favorite books of all time. (This is 1000% possible!)
So if you can’t muster up the passion to do it for yourself, DO IT FOR SOMEONE ELSE. If you persevere and try your best, there’s no reason why your book can’t be successful. And there’s no reason why it can’t be someone’s favorite one day.
REASON #5: BECAUSE YOU CAN’T EVEN SEE HOW AWESOME IT IS
You know why you think your book is rubbish?? BECAUSE YOU’RE THE ONLY PERSON ON EARTH WHO HAS READ IT EIGHT BILLION TIMES. Just think about how scary that is for a minute: the person with the highest authority on what happens to your book (you) is also the person with the most clouded opinion of said book. Not because you have a clouded opinion in general, but because we will always be quicker to judge, deprecate, and BURN AT THE STAKE our own thing. We’re rather changeable, us artists…
|this gif doesn’t really have anything to do with what we’re talking about i just wanted a reason to use it
This is why it’s so important to have a writing support group – or at least a few super close friends who will tell you the truth about your ideas (and whom you trust with your precious ideas.) I wouldn’t be able to write ANYTHING were it not for the wonderful encouragement I constantly receive from my sister, whom is privy to LITERALLY ALL MY IDEAS EVER. We bounce thoughts off each other all the time, and always come up with some pretty awesome results.* She’s also known to make my ideas even better and help me fill in plot holes I didn’t even see in the first place. Basically, GET YOURSELF A WRITING PARTNER. But you can’t have my sister. She’s 10000% MINE thank you and goodnight.
*like casual plans to take over the world, that sort of thing
REASON #6: BECAUSE YOU LOVE WRITING
When we weigh ourselves down with challenges and statistics and deadlines we often forget the real reason why we chose to be writers in the first place: BECAUSE WRITING BRINGS US JOY. Sometimes the best way to climb out of a writing slump is to remind yourself of the simple truth: “Hey, you know what? I actually really enjoy writing.” I’m amazed by how many times I get so caught up in the stress of writing that I forget how much fun it actually is.
There’s a lot of reasons why we start writing projects. But when the fiery drive and passion for your project begins to fade, what do you have to motivate you? YOUR LOVE FOR YOUR ART. And that can never be taken away from you. Don’t worry about anything else – just focus on the joy that writing brings you. Because, in the end, happy artists are the most creative artists.
REASON #7: BECAUSE I’M GOING TO KEEP WRITING EVEN WHEN I FEEL LIKE GIVING UP
IT’S TIME FOR SOME GOOD OLD-FASHIONED ACCOUNTABILITY. If I stick this thing out, so do you! Don’t go quittin’ on me, son. I pledge to keep writing even when I feel like giving up. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be SO WORTH IT. And I’ve discovered through my own experience that the more I practice pushing through my writing slumps, the less slumps I encounter. Of course, I’m just like any other human – I face doubts and fears and insecurities; I deprecate my own writing from time to time, and think that my ideas aren’t unique enough. But then I remind myself of all the reasons to keep going… the reasons I just gave you.
So I hope this post has given you some encouragement. I hope you DON’T give up on that beautiful book you’re writing. I hope you sprint to the finish line with a smile on your face.
Have you been struggling with writing lately? Are you in the middle of NaNoWriMo and feeling overwhelmed? Add to this list! What’s YOUR reason to not give up on your beautiful book? Share this post with someone you think might need it! And let’s chat about writing in the comments below!