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What do you do when you feel like quitting?

Thanks, everyone for your suggestions and comments. What usually helps me the most is reminders like this that I'm not the only one dealing with this. Other people have faced before me and more will face it after. Thanks again. I really appreciate it.


Things have been kind of rough lately on the creative front. I was wondering what all of you do when quitting seems like it would be easier than getting up and writing more.

I change my environment: put on some music and take a half hour break from writing, or take a walk outside. Sometimes I read a passage from a favorite book or graphic novel. I'm single and have no pets, but I have half a dozen good friends I can email; one of them of them is bound to get back to me soon. What I DON"T do is put off writing "for a few days," because once you do that it's a fast slide on a slippery slope to just letting go of your writing habit.

Hope that helps.


I’m maybe late to the party. I often find I go through slumps when I’m about to have an epiphany, or I learned something that’s a game changer. By all means take a break. Writing’s a hard slog. Sometimes writing is about not writing and doing things like reading, researching or just plain old day dreaming. About 95% of what we do is stare at a screen day dreaming.
If it doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it.

I don’t quit because quitting would be more painful than keeping on. If I ever quit, I am certain I would be back eventually, itching for more.

Ours is a hard, very lonely, and only rarely rewarding road. The reason to do it is out of love. Feeling like quitting happens to everyone, and it passes. So if you love writing, don’t quit, or do. I can’t imagine my stories leaving me alone for good, they’re such a huge part of me. They’ll be back, when you’re ready, or when they’re ready.


toujours gai, archie
There are different kinds of giving up. The thought of not writing, of not thinking about stories and worlds, and no longer writing them down somewhere, terrifies me. That may sound like an exaggeration, but that activity is something I've been doing for over fifty years now. It's so tied up with my sense of my own identity, the thought of no longer doing it feels awfully close to being dead. One of my great private fears is that I'll have a stroke that will leave me unable to speak or read or write (this happened to my grandfather).

But not writing is different from giving up on being an author. Obviously one must write first, but it would be entirely possible to go back to what I was doing for forty of those fifty years: writing, but not trying to get published. There is so much work involved with the latter, even for self-pub, that I can see someone deciding it was more trouble than it was worth, and just keep writing and doing no more than maybe showing stories to friends. I can't go back to that not least because I've invested so much time in my world of Altearth, I'd have a hard time justifying all those hours to the rest of my family if I didn't at least try to get published and get noticed. If I only wanted to be personally creative, I'd go back to music and maybe learn to paint.

I see five stages here. One, I just want to write stuff down that I think up. Stage Two, I want to write a complete story based on the stuff I think up, not least just to prove to myself I can do it.

Stage Three, I want to write stories and show them to other people. I want to get better at writing stories. I want them to be presentable to others.

Stage Four, I want a story to be published, trad or self.

Stage Five, I want to sell enough copies of my story to <meet some arbitrary goal>. This is where I'm at now. I want to sell enough to cover the costs of production (editor, cover art, marketing).

A person could reach any of these stages and call it good. They might continue at that stage or they could walk away. That will depend not only on the individual but on the circumstances at the time of the choice. And, really, we all of us make that choice every single day, don't we?


Myth Weaver
When I feel like quitting, I quit what I'm writing at the time. I never try to force the issue.
I usually have two or sometime three stories on the go. If I don't feel the writing is going well [or going at all] on story A, then I'll try story B or C. Some of these stories are just-for-fun. So I write fanfic just to make new scenes with characters I already like and know. There is no pressure, no plot that needs organising, no world building. Just writing. [I am rather proud of a short "story" of Cordelia Chase going shopping on Rodeo Drive ala Pretty Woman - Okay, there was no point to it and it really is not High Art, but I liked it and I liked writing it]
When I get anxiety or depression that stops me from writing/wanting to write/wanting to throw the whole F&*^ing thing out the window and then set fire to the wreckage [only did that once :whistle:], then I pick up a book and read.

Judith Rook

New Member
I've read through this thread, and I’m impressed with the comments. It's a topic that appears frequently and, for me, never loses its interest.
Before I began to write fiction, I never had a problem with the so-called “writer’s block”. I was a professional Arts journalist and my writing was completely transactional. The problems I grappled with were to do with writing style and technique. I never found myself wondering what to write; I didn’t have to search for ideas and creative energy.
Then I began to write speculative fiction, and after about a year of happily romping along, turning out around 2000 words whenever I sat down to write, one day I found I had nothing to write about, even though I was in the middle of a novel, guided by a three-page synopsis. It was a shock.
I exercised tactics similar to those recommended in this thread, and finally came out on the other side. But as a result of that experience, my way of getting myself through arid periods now is to change scale. I leave the grand sweep of the speculative novel alone, instead taking on the precision of the short story for a time. I find this gear change the best way of getting me back to where I want to be—in a world that doesn't exist, yet.
By the way, writing to a prompt doesn’t really work for me.


I can't express just how much I needed to read this thread. I'm in such a "what's the point" funk and all my usual methods of scraping my way out of it don't seem to be working. I know it will pass (it always does) but it's so disheartening when I'm in the middle of it. Reading this thread has helped fuel the fire to continue. Writing can be such an isolating and lonely occupation. Connecting with other writers has done wonders to combat that feeling.

Ned Marcus

Writing can be such an isolating and lonely occupation. Connecting with other writers has done wonders to combat that feeling.
You've reminded me of what I did when I felt the same. I tried to find a writers' group, but couldn't find a good one, so I started my own. The first was a general writers' group (and only partially successful), then I started a fantasy/sci-fi writers' group, and the friends I've made, and all the writers I've met, have made me forget (almost) the isolation of writing.
So many great responses above. I stumbled upon my own "fix" for that feeling. When I was younger. I found it impossible to keep the commitment to writing because I wasn't disciplined (who is in their teens and 20's? ) and so many other things I loved doing creatively were there to constantly distract me. Then I met a writer who preferred to do her two to three months of editing on her books while staying at a Zen Monastery. It was the routine and regimented schedule that, she said, allowed her to move through the doubts and distracting feelings. She didn't have a choice really. You woke at 4:30 am, ate at appointed times, had a work period that was not optional for guests and lights out fell at the same time every day. She was committed to the routine and had no where else to go basically. At the time, I found that to be an interesting, even charming, anecdote. Now, 20 years on, I realize it's exactly what I do every day minus the robes and meditation. :) I find that having a daily working routine ( which begins with rising at 5:30 and writing every morning from 6 am to 8:30 am before the busy mind kicks in, (and no internet, no phone, no drop ins from friends or family etc) allows me to move through those periods. It's not that I don't have the thoughts or question what I am doing, because I DO, it's that I follow the schedule regardless and find that often, the thoughts just fall away in less and less time with each pass.

Also, there's what's called the limbic system of our brain that we have to consider. Our brain is trained certain ways and, often, the only way to get out of those ways of thinking is to change the surrounding architecture we have built those doubts upon. It's why the changing of any negative aspect of our lives require changIng the entire surroundings to be successful. By making everything in my life revolve around the creative and by setting and sticking to my schedule, when the doubts arise, I don't fear them, I just acknowledge them, "Yes, hello, I see you there. You exist. Thank you for the opportunity to decide again that this is what I want to do." Then I move on.

I might switch up what I am doing that morning. I might, instead of pushing through a difficult stretch of the story, take an hour and work on the world building, the map, the invented flora and fauna or even the characters, things that inherently are what drew me to the craft in the first place. The "fun times". But I never, ever change the routine. Everything else is secondary. Why? Because when I ask myself the question "Is this really what I want to do?" I can not only answer from the heart of desire, but I now have the last there years of doing it daily to point to and say "Why else would I have done all of this?" :)

Anyway, hope that helps or at least offers a little light and perspective. You'll find your way through, I have no doubt. Keep at it!


When I get stuck and I'm not sure where to go, I try to push through by focus my daily wordcount on world building- I find word building or diving into the backstory of a character to be easier than writing to advance my plot if I'm in a rut. I'm now 84,000 words into my first draft of my first ever manuscript and have surprised myself at how much I have written in the last three months!


Things have been kind of rough lately on the creative front. I was wondering what all of you do when quitting seems like it would be easier than getting up and writing more.

I solve this dilemma by writing a little bit each day. Sometimes I write more, and sometimes I take a day off. I am able to keep up pretty well.


Sometimes I take a break - a few days, a few weeks, even a month or two. Sometimes I put on the inspirational music and crack on through. Sometimes I just write something else.

I've quit a lot of things but writing's almost an addiction. I get the ideas whether I like it or not; might as well use them.

People speak of writing as an addiction that you can feed or deny, but I find that if I try to write based on how I feel, I don't get much done. Slow but steady, a little each day, allows me to put out a short story every few weeks, with breaks between stories so I don't get fatigued. Self-discipline is better for my writing than mania. It can't hurt you to try writing 500 words a day for a while and see how you do at it.