Friday, February 16, 2018

#amwriting When You Quit Trying, You Lose by Diane Burton


Do you get notices of bargain books from BookBub? A couple of days ago, I saw a book titled
You Don’t Lose ‘Til You Quit Trying by Sammy Lee Davis with Caroline Lambert. It’s about the wartime experiences of a Vietnam Vet and Medal of Honor Recipient. That title caught my attention.

How many times have you wanted to quit writing (or any other major undertaking)? Doubts and insecurities abound with us writers. There’s even an online group called Insecure Writers Support Group where once a month we blog about what’s making us insecure and/or advice on how to overcome difficulties.

Yesterday, I pulled together my 1099s, royalties for 2017. I knew it hadn’t been a good year. I didn’t realize how bad. I used to get my 2017 total in one month! I didn’t even get a 1099 from one venue because I hadn’t earned $10. That got me questioning why I do it. Why am I hitting my head against that brick wall called earning income through writing?

Oh sure, I write because I enjoy writing. Usually. With the exception of the first two weeks of January, when I was going gangbusters, I’ve slogged along on my WIP. Some days, I haven’t written anything. Instead, I’ve binged-watched Netflix. Or taken naps when I should be writing. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. It’s my way of dealing with what’s probably winter depression. When the sun doesn’t shine for days on end; when it snows for ten days straight; when it’s too cold to go outside and when I do every joint hurts. Yeah, that can make anyone depressed.

Part of my problem with my WIP is in mid-January I changed horses. Oops, that should have read changed stories. I started the new year writing the fourth in my Alex O’Hara series. I knew exactly how it should begin. I knew the ending and most of the middle. Easy to write. When I was done writing one day, I thought about another project, one that was 80% finished. I reasoned that I should finish it first, so I would get something out sooner. I’m sure you all know that revising an older manuscript is harder than writing fresh. If not, I can vouch for it. Not only does the manuscript need updating (technology, especially), I’ve learned a lot in the intervening twelve years. Sentence structure, repetitive words and phrases, unnecessary backstory. Reading and fixing all that means a low daily word count, which I find also depressing. (Maybe I should count pages completed instead.)

Why not go back to the Alex O’Hara story, you may ask. I’m committed to this new/old romantic suspense. It’s a good story. It’s funny in places, seriously tense in others. A good romance develops. Besides, I’m sharing tidbits every weekend on Weekend Writing Warriors. On Mondays, I’m sharing character sketches. Dropping that story now isn’t a good idea.

Neither is quitting altogether, even though that’s going through my mind. Practical Hubs asks if it’s worth the time and energy to earn so little. He has a point. If I do quit, will that make me a loser, like in the Vet’s story title?

Can Spring come soon enough?

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She blogs here on the 16th and 30th of each month. Except this month. See you in March.


28 comments:

Leah St. James said...

I can relate to so much of this, Diane. TPM (a/k/a hubby) asked me the exact same thing less than a week ago. I guess each of us has to decide what makes it worthwhile for us, because for most writers these days it's not financial reward! :-) From a reader's perspective, I know I'd miss your stories! I just started the first of your Far Haven Tales (I'm sorry, I forget the title!) and I had to force myself to put down my Kindle so I could get ready for work. So from one of your fans: Please keep at it!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Why do we write is what we each ask ourselves at times...unless your last name is Roberts or Patterson or any of the other big names. I am happiest with the rest of my life when I write, but I don't write just because I enjoy it. I want others to enjoy it. And making money means someone is enjoying it. So I spend hours on promo which does not make me happy. It's a vicious cycle. I can't offer advice because as I started out saying, we each ask ourselves why and only we can answer for ourselves. Find your reason, Diane, and own it and I hope you're happy. I also hope, like Leah, you don't quit!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Diane, I wrote my second novel to prove to myself I wasn't a 'one trick pony.' After the second novel, which turned into a series-and now there were four-I still wasn't convinced I was a career writer. And then came my 'Norwegian' story, Lie Catchers, which took off in sales and which Amazon made an Encore book. And then I got my juices flowing with my new brand:my plots spiked with mystery in exotic places. Bottom line, writing has become, for me, a challenge to best myself...improving/risking with each book; checking out with my readers if I'm getting better at grabbing their attention. The money will come...or not. But like Brenda said, we have to get the books in the hands of readers or novels are trees falling in a forest that no one hears. Stay with us, Diane...Oh, the places we will go!

Vonnie Davis said...

To a self-doubter from a self-doubter. Ain't this a bitch? Calvin took a large chunk of our savings and invested it in the S&P 500 and a few other investment funds. He's earning more from it than I am from the writing. But I'm the one having the fun. I enjoy the creativity, the world I create, the characters that make me laugh. Of course I enjoy making money, but it doesn't always happen. And when I read over some of my first books, I'm shocked at how much better they sound to me than what I'm writing now. I feel like I'm going backwards instead of improving. I hope Calvin's health doesn't make me have to give it up. My mind is a place I enjoy going...it's so strange there. I'm hoping you don't give up too.

Jannine Gallant said...

It's frustrating that it's so very difficult to reach an audience. I'll keep at it because I love to write, and I don't know what else I'd do with myself all day when I'm not at my day job. Other than walk the legs off my dog... As for rewriting an old manuscript, it's PAINFUL and far harder than starting from scratch. We've all improved so much over time. Best of luck getting your motivation back!

Alison Henderson said...

I've been struggling too, Diane--as it seems so many of us are--but I've never bitten off as much as you have right now. I've never had more than one project going at a time, and I've never tried to go back and update/re-write an old manuscript. It sounds like your current old/new story will be worth the trouble, though, so all I can say is hang in there. Spring is coming!

RE Mullins said...

I have to write as it keeps me sane.

Diane Burton said...

Leah, I'm glad I'm not alone. What is it with our husbands? They mean well. Mine, anyway, wants to bring me down to earth, out of my head with my story. Thanks so much for what you said about my Far Haven Tale (Romance Rekindled).

Diane Burton said...

Brenda, I appreciate your comment. You make me want to re-examine my motive for writing. Money is validation that others are reading what I write. Reviews and comments from readers help.

Diane Burton said...

Rolynn, Lie Catchers was the first book of yours I read. I loved it. Your mysteries keep me guessing, and it's fun reading about places foreign to me. I love reading. Books take me to places I've never been, or to familiar places I can enjoy again. I guess the question I have to ask myself is what can I share that others will enjoy.

Diane Burton said...

Vonnie, your comments always make me laugh. I started re-reading one of my earlier books. Like you, I thought damn, this is good. Not the way I feel about my current WIP. Us self-doubters have to stick together, right? Praying that Calvin stays healthy.

Diane Burton said...

Thanks, Jannine. If I didn't write, I'd veg out and have no excuse why the laundry, etc. didn't get done. Usually, I enjoy writing. I need to find that again.

Diane Burton said...

Alison, thanks so much. Maybe I'm just expecting too much of myself. I know I shouldn't compare myself to other writers but... I see the number of books others have published, people who haven't been in the business as long as I have and wonder what's the matter with me that my productivity is so low.

Diane Burton said...

Thanks, R.E. Keeping sane is good.

Diane Burton said...

Thank you all so much for your candid comments. To know I'm not alone really helps. A friend (who lives in Mich.) mentioned how easy it is to get SAD (seasonal affective disorder) here because of the lack of sunshine. "Happy" lights are supposed to help. Maybe I need to invest in one of those. Again, thanks for the boost.

Susan Coryell said...

This is oh-so-timely! I love writing and researching background for my novels, but I HATE HATE HATE the techno-requirements of promo and marketing them. It's enough to make me say after every publication, "This is my LAST book!"
I admire your energy in writing two books at once. I can read three books at a time, but cannot write more than one without complete mental chaos!
Thanks for an important post.

Andrea Downing said...

You're been a voice for most of us I'd say. I think most of us, however, get our mojo back eventually. I hope!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Diane, you read my mind and wrote my thoughts. Tax season kind of makes us look at our writing careers in black and white. When I whine about lack of sales, my husband, bless his heart, reminds me how much I love writing. Just today a friend who had to recently enroll her father in hospice told me how my book kept her sane during some very, very tough days. That, in itself, kind of summed it up for me. Yeah, I'll keep at it. You need to as well, for those of us fans you do have.

Alina K. Field said...

I had my best year ever (after a few horrible ones) and my hubby asked "where's that money?" And I replied, "Remember that big property tax check I wrote last spring? Yeah, and the rest went into covers, editing, and ad buys." Sigh.

But I'm not really complaining. I'm having fun with this business!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I can Definitely relate to Winter Depression and wanting to quit. I've got the bug again though and am working on my 5th Tempered book....refuse to look at other WIP's that 'could' be finished sooner....Readers have been waiting on this one....

Great post.
Good luck and God's blessings
PamT

Diane Burton said...

Thanks, Susan. I agree about the marketing and promo. But how do we let readers know about our books? I can't write 2 books at the same time. I set one aside in mid_Jan and focused on the romantic suspense. The mystery keeps hollering "come back to me" but I need to finish the other first.

Diane Burton said...

Andrea, thanks so much. I hope my mojo returns soon.

Diane Burton said...

Margo, you are so sweet. Thanks for the badly-needed boost. How wonderful that your book helped a reader in such a difficult time.

Diane Burton said...

Alina, thanks for sharing. I used to really enjoy writing. I just need to find that joy again.

Diane Burton said...

Thanks, Pam. Your kind words always help.

Lucy Naylor Kubash said...

I've heard of those lights that people use for winter depression and lack of vitamin D and thought about getting one myself. I do take a vitamin D supplement, and I think it helps. I've been through so many ups and downs in my writing I sometimes feel like it's a roller coaster ride(and I don't ride roller coasters). After spending several years revising my previously published stories and putting them up on Kindle, I made a few paltry sales. Very discouraging. I should make the effort to get them out elsewhere, but not sure it's worth it. I did go back to a ms. I'd started and stopped so many times it was ridiculous. I entered it three times in the I Will Write a Book. Finally finished it and eventually submitted it. It was accepted and that has given me a real boost. I finished another book in the meantime, and I feel good about it. BUT, I sure don't anticipate making much money, so maybe if I do make some, it'll be a surprise. It is so easy to get depressed about it but the truth is I like writing and I guess even if I don't make money at it again, I'll still keep at it. I hope you will too, Diane!

Diane Burton said...

Thanks so much, Lucy. After all the messages here and in private emails, I'm overwhelmed by the support. You all have given me lots to think about.

Alicia Dean said...

I understand, sometimes it seems we're spinning our wheels with no results. The real question is, CAN you quit writing? I know I can't. :)