So you’re thinking about it.
You know. Quitting.
I think we’ve all been there. That doesn’t make your frustrations any less frustrating, your disappointments any less disappointing, or your despair any less devastating, though.
I want to be clear about something.
I don’t think quitting is a good way to handle writing frustrations or disappointments. I believe once a writer, always a writer — once you fall in love, there’s no divorcing your craft.
So know that everything I say here is out of understanding. Not support in favor of a decision, necessarily. I am not here to encourage you to give up. That is not what I’m here for.
(Though of course, I respect every decision you make. You do you.)
I don’t think writers should quit.
But I also understand that, sometimes, putting down your pen is the best, maybe the only option for you. For now. Maybe forever. I don’t know your circumstances. I can only assume.
It’s quite possible that the hardest part about quitting, as a writer, is handling everything that happens when people find out you’ve quit. Either they can’t believe it or “they told you so.” Either they try to talk you back into it or they say “you’re better off without it.”
No matter their reaction, it’s judgmental. And even though they probably don’t mean to hurt you, it still hurts. You want people to support you, whether they agree with your decisions or not.
You’re not necessarily wrong, deciding to quit.
Sometimes, the best way we learn is by making our own mistakes.
You never know — “quitting” might help you realize what you’re supposed to do instead.
Or it might show you that you really don’t want to quit after all.
Sometimes, you just don’t know until you actively make a choice. You can always change your mind again.
If you feel like you need to take a break, or stop altogether, no one has permission to make you feel bad about that choice. Don’t you dare let someone else’s opinion of you change the way you feel. Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do. It’s your life. You’re the one living it.
Am I recommending you give up? No. I hope you don’t. I hope that if for whatever reason you have to take a break, you’ll come back soon refreshed and ready to write again. But as much as I want to encourage you to keep going, to hang in there, to power through, I also understand that extreme circumstances sometimes demand you shift your focus. I get it. I’ve been there.
People who judge you for giving up might mean well. But you need to call them out on it, because it’s still not acceptable. Writing is not about proving someone right or wrong. Some people try it, and it’s just not for them. The level of discipline that’s required to make a career out of writing can’t always be learned. If it’s not right for you, then they need to respect that.
Just remember … even if you don’t make writing a career, that doesn’t mean you have to quit writing forever. You can still write. You can still do what makes you happy without the pressure of having to do it well 24/7. You can still set and achieve your own small goals. Heck, you can still blog and talk to people about writing and submit to writing contests, if you want to. Writing does not have to be your job. It does not have to be your whole life.
You don’t need to please anyone. You’re not disappointing anyone, either. You are just writing — or not. It’s really up to you. Others’ opinions of you should always remain the least of your worries.
If you have to, walk away. Take care of yourself. Your writing depends on your health, your desire, your willpower. If your heart’s not in it, let yourself heal. Ignore anyone who tries to push you into doing something you don’t want to, or knocks you down because they’re “right” and you were wrong. Jerks. Just jerks, all of them.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.