It’s Half-Past “You Should Quit Writing” O’Clock

*wakes up in puddle of spit and vodka*

*checks watch*

*glances up at calendar*

Wuzza?

Ugh.

Oh, shit.

It’s that time of the year again, isn’t it?

Whoo. Okay. Deep breath. Deep breath. Do some calisthenics — is that how you spell that? “Calisthenics?” Do people even say that word anymore? Whatever. Focus. Focus.

I’ll power-chug a kale smoothie. Do I want it as an enema? *whistles* Okay, we don’t have time for that. Enemas need a lot of tubing, bagging, all that clean-up. And the registered nurse I keep on my Authorial Payroll has gone and fucked off again to Puerto Vallarta, so.

I’m just going to have to do this blind.

Here we go.

Are you sitting down?

Good.

YOU SHOULD QUIT WRITING NOW.

*pant pant pant*

Okay. Okay! There. We’re over the hump. We’re past that part. Like swallowing a horse pill!

Whew.

Let’s see. I think now it’s time to go through all the reasons you should quit, right? I know I have a list around here somewhere. AH YES, it’s tattooed to this hobo’s back. Hold on, let me flip him over (he’s sleeping, the dear). Ah! Ah. Here it is. WHY YOU SHOULD QUIT WRITING.

It’s not 25 reasons, but fuck it, it’ll do.

Hm, okay –

You’re probably not that good.

Sure, sure, that tracks. I mean, who is? So many great writers out there. What are the chances that you’re among them? Eh. Slim. Are you even fit to lick boots? Mmmm. NO.

What’s next?

The publishing industry is a parade of cannibals eating one another.

Truth. It’s just a circle jerk of zombies — the dead who don’t realize they’re dead yet! Stumbling about, eating each other. Soon there won’t be anything left but a foamy blood smear on the sidewalk. Publishers are basically doomed. We’ve smelled the char on the wind for a long time now, haven’t we? I mean, shit, are books even published anymore? I haven’t seen a book since Clinton was president. Hell, there’s only one Barnes & Noble left. It’s way out on old Route 66 — it’s just a ghost, shimmering in the heat haze. You go in, you never come out again. And if you do, you only come out with — *crash of thunder* — BOARD GAMES AND COFFEE DRINKS.

What else?

Your chances are next to nothing.

Might as well be zero. Nobody gets published anymore. I’m not even published. Oh, I know, I know, you think you’ve read my books, but HA HA HA it’s all an elaborate ruse. I just sell bundles of index cards laced with high-test hallucinogens. DMT, ayahuasca, some kind of LSD you have to cook in an E-Z-Bake oven with that little fucking lightbulb. You get this shit on your hands, you’ll believe any of the lies that come tumbling out of my mouth like horse apples.

*goes down the list*

There’s no money in it.

Virtually none. I mean, this guy made it to the Amazon bestseller list and he made nothing. Nothing at all! And by “nothing,” he of course means $12,000 dollars, but that kind of money won’t buy you a sweet-ass hovercraft or a diamond-encrusted poodle, so what the shit is the point? ALL WRITERS USED TO BE RICH and now it’s just, you know, the rain of caviar and supermodels has dried up. The gravy train has turned to a curdled milk wagon. Sure, you might think that $12k on a book put out by a small publisher across a single distribution medium that made the bestseller list for a short week based on some dubious media attention is a good number. NOPE. Dude should be raking in fat cash. What happened to the world?

See? So far, SO QUIT.

*keeps poking the list*

Takes too much time.

Takes like, 10,000 hours to get good, then ten years to write a book, another ten to get published, then another ten to start collecting royalties. Who the hell am I, Yoda? Fuck that.

It’s hard.

Super-tough. It’s like, putting one word after the other — ? And then making them make sense? And then using those words and that sense to invent some story about some blah blah blah fake people who blah blah blah get into some imaginary predicament — oof. I’d rather be shoveling animal feces. Or taking fire in a hot zone. Is that what they call it? A “hot zone?” Whatever. I’m just saying, tangoing with terrorists would be HELLA EASIER.

Rejection.

Yep, you’ll be rejected. IN THE FACE AND GENITALS AND SOUL.

Hearbreak.

Your heart won’t just be broken, it’ll be run through the irritable bowels of a literary agent.

*flips through the rest of the list*

I mean, you know all this, right? It sucks. It’s hard. It takes fucking forever. Low advances. Zero respect. Self-publishing is for shlubs. Traditional publishing is for slaves. Amazon is eating everybody and everything. You’re probably getting worse, not better. You’re sad. You’re old. Best days are behind you. Or you’re young and you’ve got no shot. You’ve got nothing to say and no one to say it to. It’s hopeless. Who cares? *poop noise*

This is where I sum up, right? I tie it all together? Say something pithy? Offer you some kind of choice as if that’s meaningful? That sounds right. It’s been a while and I’ve been drinking.

Here goes.

Like I said, you should probably just quit.

If you read that and there’s some part of you that’s nodding along, great. Hey, listen, go be happy doing something else. Writing isn’t here to make you miserable. Why do that to yourself? Why do that to the rest of the world? Not everybody gets to be everything they want to be. I once thought I could be a radio DJ, a rock drummer, a cartoonist, a sex god, whatever. But as it turns out, my general sluggishness combined with an overly active imagination and paired with a propensity to a) drink and b) avoid pants seemed to add up on the Aptitude Test that is my life to one thing: writer. It may not add up like that for you. Maybe you’ll be a sex god. Or a monkey wrangler. Or the owner of the world’s only cat rodeo. Hell, maybe you just want to stay home and sit on your couch-imprinted ass and play video games all goddamn day.

Find your fucking bliss, dudes and dudettes.

If, on the other hand, this post fills you with a magma spout of rage that sears the back of your throat, good. Maybe you really are a writer. If your response to this is to shut down the browser, punch social media right between the 1s and 0s and open up your word processor and write the best fucking thing you’ve ever committed to paper, awesome. Hell, even if you open it up and write a relatively mediocre piece of crap that can be improved with effort, that too earns you a freeze-frame high-five because that proves that this is a thing worth doing. It’s not about talent. It’s about possessing the desire to do it and then the discipline and diligence to back it all up. You’re not born a penmonkey. You choose to be one.

So, make your choice.

Whatever happens, stop blaming other people for your failures. Stop complaining. Stop dicking around. Start doing that thing you want to do and do it with all the love you can fling into it.

If you’re a writer, you’ll write.

If you’re a quitter, you’ll quit.

And if you’re some other thing, find that other thing and be that.

Follow your path. Know your truth. Ride your spirit animal into the supernova or some shit.

*checks the hobo’s back*

I think that about covers it.

*looks back at the hobo list*

Oh, wait, goddamnit, I did do 25 reasons on why you should quit writing!

Never mind. Go read that instead.

59 comments

  • Hey, do what you want to do. Whatever. I write because I like it. Because I like me when I do it. There is no rush so sweet as taking something that is mediocre and working on it until it soars. That is why I write And when it brings tears to someone else’s eyes? Wow. Just wow.

  • Ironically enough, I once dreamed of being a writer and wound up being a radio DJ for the last 27 years.

    YOU SWAPPED KARMAS WITH ME, YOU BASTARD. (It was that day in third grade when I was distracted by the fart contest on the playground, wasn’t it?)

    It’s not too late; finish my book and I’ll let you do the weather tomorrow morning.

  • I had two thoughts while reading this.

    First, I think writing is arguably like playing the lottery. You better plan to play your whole life, and accept you’ll likely never win. But on the bright side, at least with writing you can vastly improve your chances of making it big.

    Second, the thought occurred to me that this sounded eerily familiar to the pitch I received from a Marine Corps recruiter. He couldn’t offer a bonus, a guaranteed base location, or much of anything. And he promised it would suck worse than the other branches of service, and be more difficult than anything else I’d ever done.

    I guess I’m just a sucker.

    • That’s actually the trick, Stan —

      It’s not like playing the lottery. Lottery makes it sound like it’s all random and maybe pre-fixed and you’ll either make nothing or everything.

      But writing is a career. It’s built off of work and commitment. Sure, there’s an element of randomness to it — there is to everything, I think.

      Quitting undercuts all that, obviously, which is part of the trick of the post — I’m doom-saying a career that doesn’t need doom-saying.

      – c.

  • For years I thought I’d be the next Great American Novelist and I’d stare at the computer screen and produce absolute fuck-all. After a while I did quit–why lie to myself, right?

    At some point I started writing a novel for fun, because it made me happy. And I’ve been doing that and have it mostly written. And maybe it’s pure shit (nice people tell me it’s not), but I’m having fun, it’s making me happy, and the glory/money thing, well; fuck adolescent pipe dreams, let’s just do something real.

  • I’m not punching anyone in the face over this because it’s still before midnight and I have a real job because I’m still not a “real writer” yet. Oddly, this little song was playing while I was reading your blog and I thought it strangely appropriate:
    http://grooveshark.com/s/Kill+Kill+Kill/jFyRj?src=5 – it’s a pretty apt representation of my relationship with writing at the moment. Fucking hell yeah I’d love to quit but

    I can’t quit it (cue 30 second Brokeback Mtn scene).

    And it’s killing me.

    So fuck you, I’m not quitting.

    Now I’ve got some shit to write.

    • This is an article about why people should quit. Yet, the comment section is bombarded with people leaving comments that end with : “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a novel to go edit” & “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a novel to write”. This is an article about STOPPING writing. It’s for people who want to stop ( I assume). I think a lot of the people who comment secretly want to stop or why even bother reading this article, and especially taking time to comment on it? What do these commenters care if somebody else out there wants to stop writing? I think many of these commenters feel like quitting but are too ashamed to admit it in public. Idk why.

  • Allow me to be direct. Not only no but FUCK NO. Industries collapse sure, business models change.But I ain’t cut out to be anything much but a storyteller, and with some cleverness and a whole lotta persistence storytellers can make enough green to live. Now excuse me, I’ve got a novel to edit.

    Thanks for the timely reminder Chuck.

  • March 20, 2013 at 5:24 AM // Reply

    I love reading your blog. Makes me smile every day. But, dear Chuck, hell no, I am not going to quit writing, never ever. Because I also don’t like pants and these goddamn voices in my head won’t stop jabbering when I am trying to get some sleep, well unless I write down what they tell me. So actually I am just keeping myself sane.

    So, FUCK NO.

  • what the fuck ever, man, never been published, never stopped me writing. If I was paralyzed, I’d be buying voice recognition software so I could keep going. I didn’t say I was rational about it or anything. I’m just scared of the monster I’d become if I couldn’t do it anymore.

  • I am a superhero.

    Every day, I save the world by writing.

    You see, if I didn’t write, I would have no creative outlet for all of the crazy within me. It would slowly start to build up inside me until reaching critical crazy mass, at which point I would violently explode in a devastating shockwave of padded rooms and happy pills, resulting in the destruction of the entire world (or it shifting by 6-degrees into an alternate reality where everybody has rainbow-coloured skin, craps gold coins and refers to everyone else as ‘Seamus’). I see writing as my duty, my calling, my raison d’être.

    Not many people know the duty I perform for mankind, but now you do. (Should any current/aspiring film-producers happen to be reading this, I will accept 15% royalties).

  • You know what? Writing isn’t a futile pour of my soul into a black hole of despair. It’s also not a floodlit path to nirvana. It’s just… a thing. That I do. Like at 2:00AM every morning when I get up so I can exchange four quiet hours for the four afternoon hours when I mainline caffeine to avoid becoming a catatonic, probably drooling, zombie. Or when I’m in the shower and I can’t remember if I’ve washed my hair because I was thinking about the next horrible thing I can put my long-suffering MC through, so I shampoo it again. For the third or fourth time… Caffeine and shampoo are cheap. I’m not obsessed and I can quit any time. Right? Really?

  • Writing is like being in a hot zone. I plan on getting friendly fire from time to time. Then again, my husband always did call me “impetuous”. Hoo-rah, Penmonkey.

  • I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

    I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

    -from “A Modest Proposal For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being Aburden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public” by Jonathan Swift (1729)

  • I am addicted to the way time falls away when I write. When I travel and am not writing, I miss it like a tweaker. I can not stop, because I can not afford competent psychotherapy. I am adding this comment towards my daily word count.

  • Nothing for it. Back to the relatively mediocre piece of crap that can be improved with effort, I guess. Sigh.

  • I mainly freelance so the territory is a bit grassier for me.

    People pay me to write stuff for them and they’re happy when I take their idea-gredients and make a beautiful word salad. Wait…what?

    I get paid to make myself and other people happy. Quit writing? Fuck that noise!

  • I quit writing all the time. I tell it I’m going out for bread and milk and I slam the door, leaving it while it holds a screaming, squirming manuscript. I tell it life’s too short to be chained at the throat with insanity, and I stomp away from the desk. I’ve probably quit writing at least 50 times in the last five years. Each time I quit, the muse slinks up to me, whispering some incredible new idea or the perfect phrase in my ear, and I’m hooked again.

  • I quit for a week not too long ago. I was gearing up the nerve to erase the whole “Writing” folder and just drink a fifth of reality and deal. Being a successful writer would’ve made me any more or less happier or miserable than I am now. Yet, I soldiered through the depression can came out the other side enlightened. I have three new writing mantras

    1) Let go of the wheel.

    2) Stay on the Bus. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/feb/23/change-life-helsinki-bus-station-theory

    3) Don’t outrun the zombie. Outrun the guy behind you.

  • When I first started to read this I thought “How could he write such things?” “Who does he think he is, telling me to quit?” I was filled with anger and rage. I wanted to quote John Locke from Lost and say, “Don’t tell me what I cannot do!” But then I continued to read and when I came to the end, I realized that you were not writing about me, or to me.

    I write because it’s what I do best. And I will continue to write because its what makes me come alive. So thanks for helping me realize that I’m passionate about writing and never want to stop. The day I read this particular article and not feel anger is the day I should surrender, but until then I’m going to strap on my guns and go back to fighting the tough world of writing and publication.

  • March 20, 2013 at 12:56 PM // Reply

    You forgot my favourite: “You have nothing to say that someone else hasn’t already said better.”

  • Gawd, I totally agree with all of you things. Joeseph Campbell, that there famous mythologist, said to “follow your bliss”, and I’ve taken that advice to heart. Now I write, have switched majors (to writing), and am on the fast track to alcoholism and homelessness.

    But. BUT, I’ll be happy. These “quit now” posts remind me that it won’t be easy, but it’ll be rewarding because dammit I’ll be happy.

    • Actually it’s the 3rd blog I’ve now seen with that theme, plus a long “Help me! I’ve lost my mojo!” post on a writers’ forum lol. Must be something about the first day of spring, I guess.

  • Frack you Wendig you make me so angry, and you really don’t want to make me angry. How angry I hear you ask? So angry that now that I’ve finished the first draft of my novel I’m coming over to capture all your bases and kill all your men. See I said don’t make me angry. :-)

  • I write because I want to create something I care about. Getting published is the last thing I want to think about. How about I write some stuff first, and then think about getting published after I’ve written three or four books? The dream of getting published is a pretty thin excuse to write. Nobody really does it for that purpose, do they? Your mileage may vary, but for me, thinking about publishing makes writing a lot less enjoyable. It’s a distraction. Later for that. Or never for that. My life is now, not some remote day in a distant possible future in an alternate universe where my fate is controlled by someone else. Even if you do everything right, it’s still a crap shoot.

  • If the sweetest meat is closest to the bone, think it’s safe to say that the terrible minds drawn to our fearless leader are mostly amused by this kind of ass kicking — ’cause it’s not needed.

    Surely, I’m not the only one who runs on a treadmill, hour a day, plotting, trying out dialogue, envisioning? Freaking me out here! Sloth can’t be an essential element of writer-ing.

    Other jocks, anyone?

    • well, I haven’t driven into a pole yet while envisioning a love scene. Come close a couple of times.

      All puns and double entendres intended.

      :)

  • It would sure be easier not to write. I wouldn”t have to wrestle with my computer, tablet, the internet, or updates. Or my printer, which keeps disconnecting itself from my computer.
    But then I’d have to take up crosswords or suduko to keep my mind stimulated. And I hate sudoku.
    Some things you just have to do. Even if you don’t get paid, laid or published.
    Writing is one of them.

  • Nice try, Chuck.
    One of your flash fiction Friday challenges gave me the idea for my first novel, so there’s no way you’re gonna convince me to stop. Not that anyone could.

  • You crafty son of a gun. I was nodding along to all of this stuff but when I finished, I kind of sat there and went, “…yeah, but I’m gonna do it any goddamn way. Er, sorry, God. Jesus. Jeebus. Whatever.”

    I think at this point I’m too stupid and stubborn to quit. Also, my life’s been a shit sandwich without the bread and I hope that maybe five or ten years from now, I’ll be a real boy–uh, author and all this social awkwardness and rejection will have been worth it. Besides, my dream can’t be THAT unrealistic (become the female Richard Castle), can it?

    Thanks for the post. I hope to see you in April for the tentative book signing in south Florida. Wear shorts. It’s hot as a jalapeno in Satan’s buttcrack down here. <3

  • When I started reading this, I was thinking, “Who the fuck are you to tell me to quit Wendigo?!” But then I realized what you were doing and I though, “Fuuuuuuuuck, he got me. Again.” So good one, Wendig. I’m going to go write and not finish my Master’s thesis now. [frolics off into wtf-land]

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