Monday, June 16, 2014

Vogt Asks, "When Do I Give Up on Writing?"

"When do I give up on writing?" That's the question fantasy author and freelancer Josh Vogt examines, the question struggling writers almost always end up asking themselves at some point. Excerpt:
Failure isn’t just an option, it’s inevitable. And not just inevitable. For many of us, it’s the norm -- with success being the exception.

Sobering to consider, perhaps, but reality is often that way. A question you often hear at writing conferences or on panels is, “How do I know when to give up?” I.e., “how long until I know I’m not going to make it as a writer?”

First off, that’s not what the person is really asking, even if they don’t realize it. What they’re looking for are signposts to success. They’re looking for ways to measure their performance so they can be certain, one way or another, about whether writing is a worthwhile investment for their time and energy. After all, who wants to waste years on writing that could be devoted to something else if you’re never going to become successful?
Read the whole thing. Vogt wisely notes that "success" is a notoriously nebulous term and only becomes more so when pursuing the crazy career of putting down words on paper. Instead of waiting for circumstances to magically validate your efforts, he suggests actually listing what you want to achieve with your writing and then quantifying your work. (An aside: Josh provides his own examples of this, and knowing high quality of his prose, I find the large number of rejections he's received strangely heartening. Seems this gig isn't easy for anyone.) For me, the whole post recalls the counsel of Robert A. Heinlein, who wrote, "In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it."

So go on. Make your plans. And keep writing as if to achieve them.

(Picture: CC 2010 by Marie Coleman)


Rhonda Parrish said...

I've opened the article in another tab to read right after I've posted this comment. Wondering if it's time to give up is most definitely a feeling I'm familiar with but for me it often comes down to, "If you're not doing this, Rhonda, what are you going to do?" Fact is, I love stories and I think that's the thing that gets me through the dark places. Even though I'm not as successful as I'd like to be, at least I'm doing something I love -- sharing stories :)

Loren Eaton said...

"If you're not doing this, ... what are you going to do?"

Bingo. That's the question that got Brandon Sanderson through his pre-publication hump. And honestly, does the "success" aspect of it (although I'd say you look pretty successful from where I'm sitting) as important as it's made out to be? It's pretty nice to just be having fun with it as long as we're able to feed ourselves and our families.