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10 Reasons Writers Quit

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience. She holds degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Writing has become the thing to do with thousands taking to typing away and publishing their work. Many, who have the talent to make it, give up and stop writing. It’s a sad story as those who have no talent or do not want to improve keep publishing away.

1. Thinking Writing Is Easier Than It Is

Many writers think that writing is a very easy thing. They have heard of authors whipping out a book in no time at all. Yes, writing isn’t rocket science, but there is more to it than just putting words on a screen or on paper.

You can’t write a novel in just a month. Well, yes, you can, but you have to realize that by doing so, you are far from taking a book from the initial conception to publication in that length of time. You’re just writing a first draft. That’s nothing to all the work before and after.

Before you start writing, you might be thinking of the story in your head. There might be research about the location, an event, or an object. You might even create an outline. Then after the first draft, the author has to go over their manuscript again and again before editing even begins. That can take months and months to the point you get sick of looking at your own work, but it is vital.

Writing is a lot of work. It isn’t impossible, but it takes time and needs a lot of your focus. It’s not as easy as you might think.


2. Expecting Immediate Success

Overnight success rarely happens in real life. Yes, it can, but those are the rare events that you hear so much about. Only those get publicized. The reality doesn’t as most authors have to work hard for years before they see any success.

Success takes a lot of work. Sam Walton didn’t find success within his first few months. He had to work hard and keep working hard to finally achieve it. Same for everyone else whose success story you have probably read. They sweated to get where you know about them with many times facing the decision to quit or not.

Yes, I know that you want to throw names like Rowling out at me. Her first book was a multi-million dollar success. Do you think it happened the minute she finished the last sentence of the first Harry Potter book? Nope. She faced rejection after rejection. It took her a long time to get accepted by a publisher, and even then, she had to continue on with the next books to keep that success going. It wasn’t easy for her.

Some authors who you know very well now weren’t ‘discovered’ until their fifth or tenth book. They continued on and fought for their success. If you expect to be a bestseller a week after your first book, then don’t even start writing. It won’t happen. And that’s when authors quit.


3. Can't Handle Bad Reviews

Every writer feels their work is perfect. Some might know they aren’t perfect yet, but they don’t think their writing is all that bad. That is until they get their first reviews. Any less than a five-star will have most new authors screaming as they hang up their writing cap. Really?

Not every reviewer will like your writing. You can’t please them all. But authors still can’t handle it when someone doesn’t like their book. Yet bad reviews come with the territory. Every author gets them. Pick a book that you think everyone loved. Read the reviews. You’ll find a lot of reviews where the book was disliked. Some will even attack the author. While I don’t agree with those kinds of reviews, they are out there, so expect them.

Too often, authors think the reviewers know best and quit. They figure they really can’t write, so why try? Stop! Just because some reviewers didn’t like it doesn’t mean you should quit writing.

Even if the reviews do point out legitimate issues, you need to be mature enough to use them as a learning resource instead of letting them push you to quit.

4. Hate Rejection

I don’t know of anyone who really enjoys rejection. We all hate it, but it is inevitable. Rejection will come, especially as a writer. It can come from agents, publishers, and readers. It will happen, and the authors who can’t handle it will quit. They want complete acceptance. Get over it because even the greatest got rejected and still do.

Honestly, we can’t avoid rejection. It is everywhere in our lives. Looking for a job? You’ll get more rejections than offers to be hired. Asking someone out on a date? You’ll get rejected sometimes. Pitch an idea to the boss? It might get rejected.

When an author quits writing because their work is rejected, they are just looking for an excuse since everyone gets rejected almost daily. Now, if the majority of the reviewers reject an author’s work, maybe they just need to take the pearls from the critique and tweak their work a bit. But blaming it all on rejection? Not a good enough excuse.

5. Won't Accept Critique

Yes, many writers quit because they refuse to accept critique of their work. I have met with them. I have worked with them. They are out there.

When I say they won’t accept critique, I mean they won’t even accept it from editors and publishers. They honestly think that their final words are perfect. When they go ahead and publish their work, they get reviews that are not flattering. They get angry and say they’ll never write again. They can’t handle the critique.

Then you have those who do work with their editors and publishers, but they still can’t handle a review that critiques their works. They might get a dozen great reviews, but the one that says they did not like the writing style or a few of the characters is the only one they focus on. I’ve known a few to quit because they weren’t accepted a hundred perfect by every reader.

Just like with bad reviews—you aren’t going to please everyone, and even the best writers get bad reviews.

6. Think Their Writing Is Perfect

While I have mentioned this previously, I need to state it again. Many authors honestly think their writing is perfect and does not need any editing. When reviews come in, they get upset and quit writing. They feel that if their first attempts weren’t good enough, then no one deserves to read it. (Yes, I had someone say that to me.)

No writer produces perfect manuscripts in their first draft. Those who have produced award-winning material have to rewrite their work sometimes a dozen times before they do it again with an editor. In the end, perfection is never obtained.

A writer will get frustrated that their first draft is not the final. They don’t want to spend any more time on it. They are done and eventually will be done with writing in general.


7. Won't Work With an Editor

I always thought that it was just natural that authors wrote a story and sent it off to the editor. But many authors fight that step. They refuse to work with a real editor. I guess that is where many quit. They want to avoid a real editor and use someone with a title of that so they can say they did not miss that step. But in the end, their book is not really edited.

I was working with a publisher as an editor. A new author submitted their work and was signed by the publisher. When it came to editing, the author said she didn’t need the book edited as she already had it done a few weeks before. Upon looking at her manuscript, it was evident that not even proofreading had been done yet. It was a very raw piece. When we pushed to get the editing started, the author said no and refused to work on getting it published. They told everyone they would never write again.

Working with an editor is vital in getting a book published. If having to do that is the deciding factor in your writing career, then maybe you need to look elsewhere for a creative outlet.

8. Takes Up Too Much Time

I don’t know what some writers are thinking when they feel that writing shouldn’t take more than a few weeks at the most. Writing is a very time-consuming art. Yes, there is a large national push to get a book out in a month. That is a very dedicated time, and many writers will be able to attest that they just couldn’t manage it. Even if they do, that is only the first draft they are aiming for. There are many more months of rewriting and editing before you can even think of publishing it.

Writing takes time.

An experienced writer realizes that life outside of writing doesn’t always like to cooperate with you. That means writing time has to be deliberate and sometimes elusive. A book could take just a few weeks to get a first draft done, or it could take years. There is time spent researching There is time spent working out character sketches and plot details. There is time spent getting a scene just right.

Many authors want to sit down and hammer out a story in days or even hours. A short story might be created in that length of time, but a novel will take much longer. Too many quit when it doesn’t happen fast.

9. Not Making Enough Money

Everyone expects to have the money rolling in once the book hits the market. That is what happened to all those other famous authors we can name easily. It isn’t as easy as the media makes it out to be. Money will not appear overnight and not ever without a lot of work.

One author informed me that they had only made a thousand dollars in the first year of their first book. They had expected to have hundreds of thousands in their bank by then. They quit as it wasn’t worth their time. Patience is needed as an author, as is determination.

There are hundreds of books published each day. That means each book is lost in this sea of reading material. An author has to make sure their book stands out, which means lots of work getting people to look at their book. The money has to be worked for, and even then, it might only be a few hundred a month, but that is a start.

You also have to consider why you are really writing—is it because you enjoy it or because you want to be rich?

10. Don't Want to Market

Marketing is something many authors have no desire to do. In fact, they feel that it is the job of the publisher if they have one and are not self-publishing. No matter how your book gets published, you need to be marketing. It is vital.

It will quickly be discovered that it takes more time to market your book than it does to write and edit it. That is why many authors would rather quit writing than spend time marketing.


ryujin on August 11, 2019:

or maybe it's not just all about the money/fame or shits. being a writer is tiring af. and you know you had those times where bad situation takes over you and no matter how long you sit and try to write no words would really come out and if they come out, it wouldn't turn out the way you wanted it to be and all that process is juts depressing.

Emily Greene on February 28, 2018:

It is also because those who may have developed skills (or talents) to write don't want to do it because they have found other skills more worthy of their attention and/or are just bored or hate them. I don't think its sad, in that instance, because then the skill/talent becomes a ball-in-chain - so to those who want to quit writing period, I'm in full support of them doing so to pursue other skills and interests. Anyone who attempts to guilt shame them for doing so are not worth their time.

Victoria Sheffield on March 22, 2017:

I am adding this to my support group for authors on facebook. Great material!

Rebecca Graf (author) from Wisconsin on December 17, 2016:

Actually I have found that I'm getting a regular income here by publishing about a dozen or so articles a month. It isn't anything to live off of, but I it helps with fun money.

William Benner from Savannah GA. on December 17, 2016:

I am still writing, but I have quite writing regular for HP because there is little money in it! But I write, just very little here, it is waste of time!