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Is It Time to Quit?

I posted an earlier version of this article on January 16, 2012. At the time, I was a bit discouraged. Also, I had listened to several people who were in the same frame of mind. Now, I’m having those thoughts again. After all, I’m “old enough” to retire from everything without guilt. The conversation I’m having with myself goes something like this.

Discouragement?

Giving up, dropping out, moving on. Really—I quit. On one hand, my last few submissions were rejected. On the other hand, I am not paid much for writing that is accepted. This writing gig is too much work for too little reward.

What if I give up writing entirely? Then, I will not have books and magazines all over my home. I won’t need to spend money on style manuals, memberships, subscriptions, or writers conferences. I won’t spend my time monitoring online writers’ groups or reading blogs about writers and writing. I will not feel obligated to attend writers’ group meetings to share experiences with other writers. I can use my “office” space for another activity, something less frustrating and requiring less stuff. And—I won’t carry around a load of guilt about not writing when I’m too tired or too busy to concentrate.

Doubt?

Whatever made me think I wanted to be writer anyway? Others told me I was good at it. People asked me to write things for them, telling me I had a gift. Through a series of “coincidences,” I attended a writers’ conference and caught the writing bug. I learned the ropes and began submitting my work. A surprising percentage of my first submissions were accepted. I found that I enjoy interviewing people and giving them a chance to tell their stories. People tell me that they are blessed by my work. Other writers say that I have been a source of encouragement for them.

On second thought…

If I stop calling myself a writer, I will lose contact with some very good people, and I will miss the opportunity to meet new writing friends. Who will help my interview subjects tell their stories and have their moment of fame? And—what about all the time and effort I have expended learning the writing ropes? I can’t write it off as time wasted. And, most important—if I give up writing, I will no longer have the privilege of being a blessing and a source of encouragement to others.

I became a writer by design and not by coincidence. I was called and equipped to write, not to measure the cost. No—I’m not done yet. I just need a new plan.

What about you?

Do you find yourself wanting to give up? How do you get yourself going again?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. If you receive this post by email, please click on the title of the post to go to my site. Scroll down to Leave a Reply and comment there.

20 Responses to Is It Time to Quit?

  1. Terry Whalin July 8, 2017 at 8:43 am #

    Emily,

    For me, a lot of the writing life involves persistence and perseverance. I find many writers get discouraged and give up too soon. Just look at Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen getting rejected with Chicken Soup over 140 times and now it is one of the bestselling series in the English language. What if they had given up when they reached 100 rejections?

    As writers we need each other. If you are discouraged, get into a critique group or find an accountability partner or some way to boost your learning and try a different type of writing. The world is full of terrific opportunities and an abundance for writers. Thank you for this post and I hope others will not grow discouraged but persist to find their own writing life.

    Terry

  2. Judith Coopy July 8, 2017 at 8:44 am #

    I am 77 years old and only began writing at 43! I have incredible adventures to write about and tried to get going often. I would like to write my China memoir about teaching and traveling there for 12 years in my late 50s! The memoir has been set aside primarily because I write every thing that happens every day and for China I have way too much information ( 42 journals, 150 pages each). I am currently writing in Journal 138 and have begun to call it a Life Log!
    I have intentionally cancelled all writing and poetry magazines, thus clearing my mind because they came to be distractions. In the meantime, my poetry has become my primary focus and will be published in a local anthology this month. I am still writing but decided to write a single essay for every year of my life forty-four of which are done! there is more …..but enough for now!

  3. Emily Akin July 8, 2017 at 9:02 am #

    Wow, Judith. You have a ways to go with your essays, don’t you. At least that’s the way we would say it in the South. Your China memoir sounds fascinating. As long has you’re happy doing what you’re doing, I say, “Keep on.”

  4. Emily Akin July 8, 2017 at 9:16 am #

    Thanks for your perspective, Terry. You’ve given me some ideas for future posts. I haven’t been to a conference this year. That’s probably why I’m in a funk. I missed Mid-South conference because of illness. I had a conflict for Kentucky. I’m looking at the relatively new one at Upland, IN, August 4-5. Bob Hostetler is keynote speaker. There are some familiar faces on the faculty (Watkins, Hensley, Wilson, Johnson). Plus there are some interesting new faces.

  5. Jennifer T July 8, 2017 at 9:18 am #

    Thank you for sharing honestly Emily! I just had this same conversation with a friend this week. One thing I took away from your post is this: pursue a new plan or different types of writing. I’m weary of ghostwriting insurance blogs, so maybe it’s time to publish more of my own work in my name or dabble in poetry. The possibilities are endless! : )

  6. Emily Akin July 8, 2017 at 9:26 am #

    Thanks for commenting, Jennifer. I’ve recently joined a brand new writers group that meets in a nearby town. We try to get together at a coffee shop once a month. They are all much younger than I am, but we have so much fun when we’re together. Someone asked what the stated purpose of the group would be. I opened mouth and the word “therapy” came out. We still don’t have a stated purpose, but we’re still recruiting members.

    I sympathize about your weariness with the insurance topic. It’s hard to be creative when you have to think about legal implications. Maybe that’s the missing element. Write want you want to write and see what happens.

  7. Diana Derringer July 8, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    From all the comments, you can see you fight a familiar battle, Emily. Thank you for your commitment to writing in spite of discouragement and doubts.

  8. Emily Akin July 8, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    Yes, I was surprised at how fast the comments came in today. This post struck a nerve.

  9. Cecelia L. Lester July 8, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    Emily: I appreciate your transparency. I an 71 years old. I have been seriously writing since 1999. I have written short plays, poetry, and devotional essays. This summer, I am in process of publishing my first book-a collection of devotions. All this about the publishing industry is new to me and very intimidating.My experience with a local writing group turned out not to be a good one. A friend has talked to me, more than one, about she and I starting on writing group. (She is not writing herself at the moment.) I have had times when I wanted to quit and enjoy life in other ways. Then, God steps in and reminds me that He called me to write for Him.

  10. Paula July 8, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

    I could relate to just about everything you wrote right up front about reasons to stop freelance writing. My situation differs from yours a little. I often have periods when I’m not writing because of a chronic illness and I rarely make a writing conference because I can’t afford them.
    But when it comes to the good reasons for continuing, the one at the top of the list is the voice of the Spirit encouraging ME. He tells me that I was given a gift to share and sharing it is obedience. I have also had people tell me how my writing has blessed them in some way and that’s gratifying. The money? Yeah, sort of a bummer, that work to payoff ratio.
    I was recently given a break for the summer from my pastor when he said the weekly study guide I write for our church (goes on our website to download) could wait until fall when the small groups start back up. I don’t get paid for that, but it’s part of how I use my gifts to serve the body. The email I got saying I get the summer off said I could spend that time writing my “lucrative” works. My reply was something to the effect of “If I did it for the money, I wouldn’t be doing it.” I’m a writer because I can’t help myself, I suppose.
    Thanks for your honesty in the post.

  11. Emily Akin July 8, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Paula. I’m reminded of Sandra Aldrich, who said she writes because she has to. She can’t not write.

    Have you considered the Taylor University conference that’s being held in Upland, IN, this summer? https://taylorsprofessionalwritersconference.wordpress.com/ Tuition is only $99, and housing is in the dorms.

  12. Emily Akin July 8, 2017 at 6:32 pm #

    Hey, we are the same age. And I started writing for publication about the same time you did. As with your experience, I’ve had people tell me out of the blue how much something I wrote meant to them. That’s fuel to keep me going.

  13. Dianne E. Butts July 10, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

    Thanks for this, Emily. I actually remember this post from 2012. I was in a similar place. I’ve toggled in and out of these feelings for a decade or more. But I always come back to one thought: If I quit, what would I do to spread the gospel? That’s why I write. For me, writing is that outlet I crave.

    I’ve also stumbled into screenwriting this past decade or so…which led to actually producing a couple short films…which actually led to my most recent project being nominated for two awards at the 168 Film Festival for Best Documentary and their Evangelista Award for clear presentation of the gospel. Winners to be announced August 26-27, 2017, in Los Angeles.

    So glad I found another creative outlet and didn’t quit!

    I still continue to write. I’m working on a new book proposal now. I always appreciate your ideas and postings.

  14. Alma L. Stepping On Jones July 11, 2017 at 3:45 am #

    Yes, I have had such thoughts, but owing to my subject matter, I push those doubts, feelings of discouragement, feelings of not being good enough and feelings of being tired or of having too much to do aside. When I chose to share in my writing about the love that He has for us as mankind, my writing ceased to be about me. He became my focal point and that meant that I had to take a backseat. It was not all about me anymore. I determined to stay focused and committed to my task at hand, sharing His love with the world.
    From time to time, I still wrestle with the feelings that I mentioned above, but not for long. I have a job to do that is bigger than me for a God, Who is bigger than it all.

  15. Emily Akin July 11, 2017 at 7:41 am #

    Hi, Dianne. Good to hear from you. Glad you’re doing well with the screen-writing. I think I need to seek out a new writing niche.

  16. Emily Akin July 11, 2017 at 7:43 am #

    Hi, Alma. Thanks for your input. As you point out, it’s all about perspective. Are we doing it for ourselves or for the good of others or for God? It’s a little of all those things. But, as you say, God is at the top of the heap.

  17. Paula July 11, 2017 at 8:19 am #

    Yes, Emily, I had already looked up the Taylor University site and the conference. Tuition is indeed inexpensive. However, I didn’t find out about it until it was too late to save up for it. The tuition may be inexpensive, but there is also hotel and gas expenses to drive. So maybe next year.. Thanks.

  18. Emily Akin July 11, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    I didn’t look too closely, but I think there was housing available in the dorms for reasonable price. I haven’t had any luck finding a conference to attend this year. There’s been a conflict with every single one.

  19. Tracy Crump July 13, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

    I love your self-talk, Emily. I would be one who would be sorry if you quit.

  20. Emily Akin July 13, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

    Thanks for the good words, Tracy. I’ve had so many responses to this post that I may summarize what commenters have said in a future post.

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