Why Writers Stop Writing

A.k.a.: Why writers get discouraged and give up.

A.k.a.: Why first drafts are always bad.

A.k.a.: Why you need to keep writing!

A.k.a.: You can get the guts to self-publish!

“I want to write a book, but every time I start it sounds stupid. I can’t be like you and just pound fantastic stuff out.”

Oh, how I wish there was some truth to that statement! Anyone who believes that writers can pound out one beautifully crafted sentence after another has seen too many episodes of Castle.

Writers are daring people. We understand that when we hit the publish button, we are putting ourselves in front of a world of judges. However, we only get to that point because we know the big secret—self-esteem coupled with determination. You know the saying that anything comes easily is not worth doing? If writers subscribed to that theory, the vast majority of books would never have been written.

Every experienced writer will tell you that first drafts are absolutely horrific! This goes beyond bad grammar and typos. Most likely, the storyline presented in a first draft will be all over the place and will make little sense, even to the writer. There will be plot holes. Underdeveloped characters will abound. Details the writer thought were added will be MIA. All of these little issues will seem insurmountable and are exactly the reason why many people abandon writing projects early on.

TV shows like Castle and Murder She Wrote depict authors crafting sentences that flow from the tips of their fingers and onto the page without a single keystroke flubbed. As viewers, we don’t consider how the screenwriters behind the scenes struggled with those words, creating draft after draft, until the scenes were perfectly developed. While it is possible that on the first try the screenwriters nailed the two profound sentences we saw Richard Castle type with little effort, it is more likely that they played with it five times to ensure the voice was just right. We will never know what trials they faced, because the magic of Hollywood conceals the struggle.

The first draft of Love’s Forbidden Flower was written in about forty days; yet it wasn’t published until nearly one year later because it was horrible. Not only had I written things that didn’t make sense, the story contained so many words (literally over 130,000) that Herman Melville would have been envious. If anyone were to read that first draft, and Lord knows I would never allow it, that person would be appalled. It took me three attempts at playing with the voice and point of view before I was satisfied. Yes, three drafts! Granted I didn’t rewrite the entire book each time, but I came pretty close. Eventually, 130,000 words of babbling were reshaped down to 93,000.

Some story changes happened after I went through my first round of beta readers, and after my second round of beta, I was still adding details to enrich the story. The whole process felt like it took forever, but it was absolutely freaking worth it! If I had given up hope when I saw how bad the first draft was, I never would have published a single book.

The moral is to never lose faith in your abilities. Keep pushing. Keep writing. Keep refining!

And when all is said and done, get that book out there! Hit that publish button with pride!

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One Comment

  1. I needed this post today! Have been swimming in self doubt about my first book, one day “great premise”, next day “really?”. To the point of no writing this entire week…..but this post inspired me. Thanks DR.

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