February 26, 2014
Unless your job requires you to write, you get to decide whether or not you want to. Thus, assuming you’re writing for reasons other than employment, you can stop writing if you’re not enjoying it or if you’re not liking what you’re working on.
If you (like me) were taught at an early age that you should finish what you start, you probably have difficulty giving yourself permission to stop writing that short story or article or book that you aren’t happy writing. But I encourage you to look at the decision to write or not to write with new eyes.
Stopping doesn’t have to be permanent. You can always start writing again after you figure out why whatever you’re working on isn’t working for you. It’s okay to put aside a writing project–it’s even okay to abandon it forever if you move on to other projects you’re enjoying more.
My husband and I were in a writing group once, and one member’s writing was consistently negative and incoherent. So my husband asked him, “What are you trying to say?” He gave my husband a blank look, but said nothing. He didn’t return to the writers group, but I connected with him several years later, and he told me to thank my husband for him because the question made him think. He decided he didn’t really want to write after all and began using his time for other things he liked better.
Writing is a decision you get to make on your own. You don’t need anyone’s permission to continue or to quit. You don’t need to feel guilt or regret if you stop. You’re not a quitter. You’re not a failure. You’re just making a decision to do what’s best for you.
And if you decide to stop writing, it doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. You can always make another decision to start again when the muse moves you. Happy writing!
February 13, 2014
I’ve said many times that writers write, right? But I haven’t really asked you to think about why you write. Do you write for money? There are easier and quicker ways to earn money. Do you write for emotional reasons? There are other ways to deal with your emotions. Do you write to dig deeper spiritually? There are numerous venues to connect with your spiritual being.
So, why do you write? Here’s a common list of why writers write. If yours isn’t on the list, it only means it’s not on this list. It doesn’t mean it’s not a valid reason. Have fun going over the list.
- To share–perhaps you share your ideas, your emotions, your experiences, your concerns, or even your obsessions with other people.
- To express yourself.
- To explore topics that interest you.
- To offer knowledge or wisdom to others.
- To motivate others.
- To experiment with new genres (mystery, romance, sci-fi), different forms (poetry, short story, essay), or various approaches (first person, omniscient, narration).
- To persuade others.
- To grow as a writer or as a person.
- To connect with others.
- To work through whatever life issue you’re dealing with.
- To establish your authority, reputation, or expertise in a subject.
- To create something artistic.
- To gain the respect or approval of others.
- To escape from everyday pressures/stresses.
- To create something to pass on to others–family, friends, the world.
- To prove to yourself that you can do it–that you really can write.
- To earn money (or fame).
- To build a writing career.
- To see if you really want to be a writer.
There are other reasons writers write that I didn’t list, so don’t think your reason isn’t valid if I didn’t mention it. On the other hand, here are some reasons not to write.
- To hurt others.
- To defraud others.
- To libel others.
- To get revenge.
- To create more misery for you to immerse yourself in (sometimes called a pity party for yourself).
- To avoid responsibility (such as providing for yourself or your family).
If your motivation to write comes from the wrong list (the bottom list), stop! If you can honestly say you’re writing for the right reasons (the top list), give yourself permission to continue. Happy writing!