How to Keep Writing When You Feel Like Giving Up

Writing is hard work. It’s a slog sometimes. It’s blissfully easy to come up with ideas and to pour them out with reckless abandon, stream-of-consciousness style. Where it gets painful is when you suddenly decide you might like someone to read what you’ve written one day. Enter a world full of struggle and toil, where every effort to improve your work feels like it might be making it so much worse. Cue the endless rejections, looming deadlines, complete dry spells (a.k.a. the dreaded writer’s block), and the ever-present desire to give up because everything is trash, and who cares anyway?

“A writer is one to whom writing comes harder than to anybody else.”

Thomas Mann

I get it. I feel you. The struggle is real. How to persevere? Here are ten suggestions. I hope some combination of these helps.

1. Let the discouragement happen.

Feel it, recognize it, and then let it go. You can’t just tell yourself not to be discouraged, but you shouldn’t sit in that emotion long enough for it to consume you.

2. Manage how you’re talking to yourself.

Negative self-talk is a very real enemy. We writers tend to be our own worst critics, but please stop telling yourself your novel is trash. There are enough people ready to hand you rejection and criticism without you pre-emptively doing it to yourself. Have a little compassion for yourself and look for the positive.

3. Take a deliberate break.

Intentional time away from the process, rather than doing something else and all the while beating yourself up because you “should be writing.” Give yourself permission to take a minute to recalibrate and rest.

4. Write something else.

If the problem is that you’ve become jaded with your WIP, a change can be as good as a rest. This might mean taking on a different project entirely, pounding out a quick flash fiction, or simply tackling a different part of your manuscript for now.

5. Ask yourself why you wanted to write this story.

Try to rekindle that first love of the idea, the excitement at the start of the project. Maybe even read back over some of your WIP—you might be surprised by sentences and paragraphs you forgot you wrote that really work.

6. Identify outside pressures.

Look at what other stresses you’re currently facing and see if something can be reduced, delegated, or eased somehow. Maybe you’re going through a difficult season in your life. Reassess, look at what you can control, and figure out what is realistic right now. Are you getting enough rest? Are you getting enough physical activity?

7. Remind yourself of past successes.

Take a look back at any stories you’ve had published, any decent feedback you’ve gotten from beta readers, and any lovely comments from your social media followers. Or even just revisit your favourite thing you’ve ever written to remind you that you can write, you love to write, you are a writer.

8. Visualize what you want for this book.

I’m not a huge believer in manifesting, as popular as it has become of late. But by picturing yourself already at the end goal, you might see enough light at the end of the tunnel to continue. If nothing else, it can get you thinking more positively. This does not mean setting massively unrealistic goals that may dishearten you further—just imagine where you would like your WIP to end up as if it’s already a reality.

9. Lean on a support network.

Find an accountability buddy or an online community. Writing is lonely work, but it doesn’t have to be. Recruit someone to cheer you on. Or if what you really need is emotional support, find a good listening ear and talk about the struggle.

10. Put your butt on a chair.

Show up for your writing. It is a slog, yes, but it’s the only way to get it done. Schedule time for your WIP and set it aside as if it’s your job. Sometimes all it takes to get over a slump is some strict self-discipline.

“A writer is a writer
not because she writes well and easily,
because she has amazing talent,
because everything she does is golden.
In my view, a writer is a writer
because even when there is no hope,
even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise,
you keep writing anyway.”

Junot Diaz

Published by Aly Writes

I bake. I write. What goes better together than a good story and a delicious fresh-baked pastry? Nothing. And I can give you both. Grab a hot cuppa and join me.

One thought on “How to Keep Writing When You Feel Like Giving Up

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: