March 27

Should You Quit Writing?


Another great piece from Chuck Wendig:

Because I don’t know you. I don’t know your heart. I only know my heart, or rather, I know the soot-black thatch of dead birds I call a heart. And I know that I have been writing since I was 18, which means I have been writing for 21 years, which means I have been writing for longer than the period where I wasn’t writing. (Further, let’s be clear that even during the first 18 years of my life I was writing — I wrote my first ‘book’ in like, fifth grade or something. It was horrible.)

Now, that may sound like, God, he’s been writing for that long, he’s really got it together. But I want you to realize that my goal from the age of 18 was to be a novelist, and I also want you to realize that my first novel was published in 2011, which means that I was a failed novelist for — *does some quick math* — 4,591 years.

Okay, that can’t be accurate.

*asks wife to do math for him*

There we go. I was a failed novelist for 17 years.

That is not a short amount of time.

That is a rather long time to dick up the thing I thought I was meant to do.

Some folks will say to me that they hate writing and yet they do it anyway, and hey, more power to them. I don’t see the allure. If writing as a total act is just a long stretch of misery on par with letting a drunken goat perform rectal surgery upon you with his mouth and horns, I’d say that’s a pretty good sign to quit. Not because you’re no good but because the act is no good for you. Life is too short to punish yourself that way.

And it’s worth reiterating here the difference between short-term happiness and long-term satisfaction. Every day of writing is not a jizzy giggle-fest for me. I don’t end every thousand words with a pantsless pirouette. It isn’t rainbows firing from my nipples in glorious prismatic beams. Some days are shitty. Some days I want to just hide under my desk and eat a bowl of chocolate ice cream and by chocolate ice cream I mean chocolate ice cream plus a whole bottle of whiskey. But the overall thing is satisfying to me. I am satisfied by the craft of writing and the art of storytelling. Satisfaction matters. Happiness is an unpredictable bullseye. Satisfaction is like the climate, but happiness is like the weather.


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  • I agree about the lack of giggle fest in the process of writing but though some days it can be a chore it often turns out to be pure therapy which can lead to happiness.

  • I couldn’t help but smile as I read this. Writing about wondering whether you should quit writing can only lead to more writing. Also whiskey belongs in coffee, you silly goose.

    – OP

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