To Write or Not To Write, That is the Question

                   I saw another blog recently where the question was asked "Is it time to give up?" The question had been posed to the blogger by someone who had been working at it for a decade and had gotten nowhere.

The blogger, a published author, said the question deserved a serious answer instead of just the typical rah-rah, never-quit, never-say-die cheer. Then he proceeded to give that never-say-die answer he'd just decried.

Frankly, the question is legitimate and it does deserve a serious answer. The problem is the only people who ever answer this question publicly are those who've succeeded or those who still have hope of succeeding. The first bunch--the published author--is of course going to think it was worth it. The second bunch--the hopefuls--doesn't dare entertain the idea that it's not.

But I've known people who quit. At one time, there was an amazingly talented writer in my face-2-face critique group who quit. Why? Because his wife was tired of how isolated she felt when he wrote. She was jealous of the things he shared with the writers' group that he didn't share with her (don't know if that's so but it's how she saw it). She gave him a choice. His family or his writing. He chose his family.

Does he regret it? I don't know. I imagine he regrets having to make the choice in the first place, but I suspect he'd have regretted losing his family more than he regrets giving up writing.

So I'm hesitant to act as a cheerleader when the question comes up. It's a struggle to get where we want to go, and we can sacrifice so much and still never get there. Is it worth it? If the answer depends on whether we succeed or fail, then there's no way to know until you're on the other side. If you reach the end and you've never published, will you regret what you've given up?

I don't think this isn't a question someone else can answer for you.

Have you wrestled with this dilemma? How did you make your decision? And what do you say when someone asks you "is it time to quit?"


  1. An interesting and thought-provoking, although a sad post, Suzie.
    I haven't but I've met many people who have been faced with the dillema : this-or-that, where on one side was their family (very often wife), and on the other - career. I find it extremely sad and unfair that people are being forced to chose between what they really love.

    I hope I'll never be put in such position or I'll never put anyone in this position. I'm afraid it's a lose/lose situation. there are no winners.

  2. I've thought about quitting - I bet everyone has, at least once while writing. But the story is still inside me and wants to get out there. So I think I'll just do it to get it out of my system - and I immediately get hooked on writing again. It might take a week or two or more, but I always come back.
    I don't think I'd ever manage to fully quit. Whether I just stick to writing inside my head, my characters will always be there. They've been with me ever since I was 9 :)

  3. It is a thought provoking blog, and I agree sad that someone had to choose. I write because I love doing it, love the solitude and the creation of my own little world. I would never quit, am having too much fun.

  4. It is sad, but life is full of choices. If you get all you need from the writing itself, that's great. No problems. But if you're giving up other parts of your life to chase publication and getting nothing but heartache and uncertainty back, that's when you have to start wondering if you wouldn't be better off giving up the dream. It's not an easy question and I doubt there's ever an easy answer.

  5. For sixty years I've had a never-say-die attitude toward one losing battle after another. But if your criterion is having fun, not "success", you'll know when its right to quit. It'll feel good. Never quit having fun!

  6. It's sad that someone would force another to give up something they loved. I can't see how a person could be put in that situation and not be left harboring ill feelings.

  7. I can't imagine forcing someone to give up their dream. That said - when you have a family, a spouse and children, there has to be a happy medium. You can't totally neglect your family for your writing and vice versa. You have to be able to meet in the middle. It can be difficult but it's doable.

    I stopped writing for nearly ten years. But, if you are a writer, I don't know how you could ever truly, completely give it up. As Stephanie said, the characters and the story are there whether you write about them or not. I think you could give up the idea of ever being published but I don't think you can truly ever give up being a writer. Maybe that's where schizophrenics come from?

  8. I stopped serious writing to pursue another aspect of my life - I breed and show Salukis. Being a part of the dog world means giving up a lot of what should be free time, particularly when you are also on the track to judge. I've come back to writing and was attempting to regain the furious pace I'd achieved before but everything conspired to steal that time from me. Until I had a sort of epiphany. I thought forward five years on what would give me the greatest joy. Was it awarding a win at one of those huge televised dog shows? Or sitting behind a stack of MY books at a signing.
    My immediate reaction was a surprise even to me, so I keep writing.

  9. Loved this post and the idea of quitting done in such a respectful manner, because it is a serious question we all think about from time to time. Balancing family and other commitments is tough, and no right answer is a cure-all. But I do think a writer is born, and then developed. That second part is where it gets tricky, because where the writing is in relation to everything else, will make quite a difference in the author's career.
    But even if I didn't have the opportunity to further my craft full time, I'd still be a writer.