This Writing Life: Don't Quit, Ever
As someone who has given up writing multiple times during my lifetime, I feel somewhat qualified to write about why you shouldn’t quit.
Dormancy for periods of extreme time constraints may be necessary, but even then, a jotted line or two in a journal can be a sanity keeper. Maybe understanding the reasons why we write, why you should find time to write even when no one else is reading your words, and how you can persevere despite challenges, will keep you from making the same mistakes I did.
Reasons Why We Write
Writing may be a primary way you process your world. Understand your primary learning style – auditory, visual, or tactile. Writers are often visual learners who process information best through reading and viewing pictures. (Click here for a simple test designed for students to discover your learning style.) Seeing the words on paper help you process through information, emotions, and even difficult seasons. Auditory learners also may be writers, but enjoy a speaking platform like podcasts, etc. Tactile learners also can be writers who have a hands-on need for expression like visual arts, photography, or mixed mediums.
A God-given desire to communicate, tell stories, dispense information. Usually this tendency will show up in children at an early age. Did you, or do you notice your children, writing fantastic stories, making signage for their spaces, keeping a diary or journal, volunteering to write a neighborhood newsletter, or even using their influencer skills to carve out an Instagram niche?
We write because we must write. Life doesn’t always make sense, and sometimes we need to get out of the weeds and view our situations from an almost literary perspective – more withdrawn and third person, if you will. Other times, we need to grovel in those emotions and work through their messiness to finally get to the root of the matter.
Writing is our emotional outlet and we feel compelled to share. As a once over-sharer, only in writing, I understand this tendency. We communicate best with our written words and tend to dump our emotions on paper. My husband has a collection of my written apologies throughout our 37 years of marriage. Often, we must learn to curb the tendency to share these writings. Always let them sit overnight before launching your words into irretrievable spaces where they may do more damage than good.
We desire to help others learn through our mistakes (growth opportunities). Hence this post. 😊 This is a healthy desire, but we must learn something before communicating our words of wisdom. Often this means years of writing in private, like journaling or on social media for friends, before launching your words to have maximum public impact. This doesn’t mean a lifetime, just a season of investing in your writing, doing life, learning how to write, reading, and writing as often as possible.
Why You Should Write When No One is Reading
How I wish someone had told me this. I thought my valuable time spent writing words should always have a practical outcome, like publishing a book, or writing an article, and that it should always earn income to make the time investment worthwhile. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because I was a journalism major in college and worked in public relations, I couldn’t separate my work-related writing from my personal writing time. I thought it all must have a monetary end goal to be worthwhile.
Your writing life has a personal pay-off. Here are a few reasons to write when no one is looking:
Your sanity. Yes, if this is how you best process your world, then write, copiously, extravagantly, emotionally, spilling your guts onto the page. Heaven forbid anyone should read these words, but your health and wholeness depend on it.
Your faith. Words are important to God. He understands our need to process through our faith in words. My journaling has shifted through the years to written prayers, because writing is my favored form of communication. I pour out my heart and requests to God in a notebook, and then listen and write what I feel He is showing me through His still, small voice in my heart.
Recording your thoughts, dreams, and goals. These may change through the years, but the ones that remain through the seasons of life, are true and most likely to be God-inspired. Our quest should always be to fulfill our divine design and holy calling. There’s a reason He’s called the Author of our faith. He who has begun a good work in you will complete it.
Future material for writing. The more you process through your life lessons, the more you will have to share with others eventually. Record it to remember it.
Persistence is a critical quality for a writer of fiction or non-fiction. You may have heard that 10 years of steady writing is what you need to perfect your writing, averaging 3-4 books before selling to a major publisher. (Click here to see a novel writing survey by fiction author Jim Chines.) If I hadn’t expected too much, too soon, with too little experience, maybe I wouldn’t have quit cold turkey on writing three times in my life. I’ve had to learn the hard way simply to keep writing. It will perfect your craft, help you figure out who your audience is, hone-in on your genre, and build industry connections. Keep improving your skills through writing conferences, classes, and most importantly, daily writing.
How Do You Persevere in Writing?
How to persevere despite the many challenges is the crux of the matter. Indeed, what are the words my younger self needed to hear in order to keep going?
Recognize and accept who you are. If you feel compelled to write, there is a reason. By God’s design, you ARE a writer and no amount of pouting about not being published will change that fact.
Write because you love it. Recognize this love of writing and make time for it. Prioritize it. Though I’m not a morning person, I realized I wasn’t my best at day’s end, and I needed to write in the mornings before I started work. I now get up two hours earlier because it is important to me. It was hard at first, but now I’ve adjusted my schedule and I love this fresh, coffee in hand, writing time.
Write for yourself. No judgment, no end game, no filter, no editing.
Write for others without expectation. Write in different genres with varying lengths. Try fiction, non-fiction, articles, blog posts, Facebook and Instagram posts, and find your comfortable niche and your people.
Recognize rejection can kick your butt. Because I was trying to sell my words before they were ready for public consumption, I received numerous rejections. When I should have kept going, kept writing, kept perfecting, I let discouragement win. Discouragement is never from God. It is a tool of the enemy to thwart God’s plans and purposes for your life. Understanding this and prayer are your tools to defeat discouragement.
Help your loved ones understand. Usually, because this writing life is a solitary sport, you don’t have others cheering you on. They don’t understand your deep need to write or the time required to persevere. Help them.
While the world eventually needs your words, my writer friend, you need them more. Words are how you process life. I encourage you to keep going, keep writing, and don’t quit.