Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Five Reasons Why the Unpublished Can Stop Writing


This is for aspiring authors, the not yet published. Perhaps you are one. Perhaps you know someone to whom you can send this message. They need to hear this.

It's okay to stop writing.

1. A halt to writing is part of the journey. I stopped writing numerous times during the ten years I worked to be published in fiction. Once I even vowed I'd never go back. Sometimes life gets in the way. Children are sick, you're sick, you just got married, you have a new grandbaby--whatever. Or sometimes discouragement arises and saps all creativity from you. It's not the end of the world if you put your writing aside for awhile. Doesn't mean you're not a writer.

2. Taking time off is the luxury of an author not yet contracted. For you unpublished folks when life gets in the way you're able to take time off. Embrace that. Realize that once you're contracted you have no choice but to write. That sickness, the new marriage, the new grandbaby, that complete lack of creativity--sorry, no excuse. The deadline will loom.

3. The brain continues to "cook" even when you're not writing. Are you reading? Living life? Studying the craft here and there? All these things work in your subconscious to improve your craft. When you do return to writing you're likely to discover new insights, better use of technique.

4. Pushing aside your writing is no cause to beat yourself over the head. We authors are our own worst enemies. We beat ourselves up over everything and nothing. If we're writing, it's terrible. If we're not writing, we're fakes. STOP IT.

5. The real writers always return to writing. If indeed those filled pages were just a passing fancy, maybe you'll never get back to writing. But if you're driven, if you have to write--which is what it takes to become published--you will return to the craft. Just like I did after I swore I'd never write again. If you're meant to write, one day your brain will start popping with ideas, your fingers will itch for the keys. You'll dream plotlines, think up characters. Even hear their voices in your head. This may happen after a week, a month, a year or more. But if you're meant to write it will happen.

Has life and disappointment caused you to shove your writing aside? Enjoy your time off. It's all part of your journey.
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Winner of this month's Photo Friday is Wendy Hamilton, with this caption: With the new healthcare plans in place, area hospitals replaced their "H" signs with one more fitting the level of care patients could expect.

Congrats, Wendy. Please e-mail me with your choice of one of my novels.

24 comments:

Gina Conroy said...

Great encouragement, Brandilyn. And God has been teaching me this, especially to enjoy not being published and having no contracts! It's taken me a while, but I've finally realized that being unpublished is a blessing and comes with freedoms the published can't always enjoy!!

Richard Mabry said...

Brandilyn,
Very few published authors would take the time to share these pearls of wisdom, all of which are quite true.
In my case, it was only after I gave up writing that God intervened (there's just no other explanation), providing representation by a great agent, a contract from a wonderful editor, and publication by a fantastic house. Even when we give up, He doesn't.
As for taking time off being a luxury only the uncontracted have--Amen! It's a nice problem to have, working under deadline, but it leaves precious little wiggle room sometimes.
Thanks for sharing this with your readers.

Kathy C. said...

Whew...I've been reading your NES over the last week or so, all 60+ posts. What a journey!

Liberty Speidel said...

I stopped writing creatively for about 2 and a half years around the time I was in college and got married. Even though I was pursuing a degree in journalism, my husband was a little surprised to learn I was a writer one day about a year or so after we got married--I hadn't been actively working on anything fiction-wise since we'd begun dating, although I was an active member of my local Sister's in Crime group and writing group!

I've taken breaks during sicknesses and around the time I had my daughter (and when I got pregnant with the one that will be born in July), but I've always come back to my writing. The characters have too much to say, and if I didn't tend to their needs, I'd be in a loony bin--I'm sure of it.

Eddie Snipes said...

Good words and thanks for the reminder that we shouldn't be overly hard on ourselves. Sometimes we need to just relax, and smell the roosters :)

Dee Yoder said...

Hey, thanks for the permission to stop writing once in a while. I needed to read that. Think mother-guilt is bad? Writer's-guilt is worse. By far.

Cheryl Klarich said...

Thanks for the refreshing insights, and the reminder to live, move and have our being wherever we are on our journey.

Dee S. said...

brilliant, brandilyn. now back to writing...

Sheila Deeth said...

I never stopped telling stories - even turned teaching chess into stories about chess players. But I stopped writing for quite a while and took it up again when I lost my job.

Margo Carmichael said...

Wonderful words, Brandilyn.

I do have a new grandbaby, and four others, and I'm so thankful to live near them all after living 1000 miles away for six years that I am just savoring this sweet life for a while.

Also attending a neighborhood Bible study and getting to know Christian neighbors, going to a Bible study with a daughter, our tradition, and singing in a great choir.

Maybe some of these people will buy my book one day, but I'd do these regardless.

Besides, editors and agents tell me to make two books out of my long wip. Plant a false solution, pick it up in book 2. This requires two beginnings, middles and ends, and I think, weakens the whole thing.

So I'm reading writing books and novels and current events and letting it all percolate.

But not an hour goes by that I don't think about it. And I'll go back to it with a fresh eye when the time is right.

Thanks for calling this a luxury. It was a guilt trip up to now. :(

Thank you so much for the encouragement.

God bless~

Lisa Stowell said...

Yes indeed, thank you so much for the insight that many of us wouldn't know or understand from out vantage point. You gave us vision and encouragement from the opposite end of the perspective. How nice to know that others go thru some of the same things that I do. For awhile I felt like I was out in the wilderness and I wasn't able to write like I once had. Now I think that perhaps God used that time to show me some things that I might not have known otherwise and now I can incorporate more into the story that I am currently working on thru what I learned during that journey.
Thanks again, Brandilynn!

Sandra Heska King said...

This is so me. Thanks, Brandilyn. I just linked to this post on my blog. Hope I did it right.

Pamela said...

Hey Brandilyn thanks for the words of wisdom. I am so glad that you didn't give up writing, because I enjoy your books very much. I am taking my time and enjoying the whole writing experience...savoring every moment.
Blessings, Pamela

Hannah said...

Thanks, Brandilyn. As an unpub-author, I sometimes scream to myself, "And just what do you think you're going to do if you get published?!" Somedays (or weeks) inspiration does not exist in my world. (Or book.) I do savor not having a deadline, just not the down days when I think it might be best to toss that puppy out the window. Thanks for the encouragement to keep at it. :)

Carol J. Garvin said...

Thanks for this great post, Brandi! I've dabbled with writing most of my life but only began writing seriously a decade ago. Since then I haven't been tempted to give it up, but there are occasional times when I'm not writing for many of the reasons you've mentioned. I hear so many other aspiring writers bemoaning dry spells and talking of the guilt that accompanies them, and I've wanted to say, "It's okay to give yourself a guilt-free break." You've said it perfectly and provided the rationale! I hope you won't mind that I've linked to this post from my blog: http://wp.me/phaYw-xS .

Helen Bratko said...

Great post. Thanks Brandilyn. :-)

Chesney Bradshaw said...

Thanks for the encouraging thoughts.

Cher Green said...

Great post. I stopped writing while I was with my ex, unfortunately that lasted eight years. I began writing again two years before the separation, but my best writing has accured after the divorce and my new life began. I enjoy life now and it shows in my stories, even if they are dark.

Cher Green
Footsteps of a Writer

Edwina said...

I needed this today!!! Thanks for the encouragement!

Blessings!

Ron Estrada said...

I think you just wrote my life story! The "dark years" for me happened in '07-'08. Now I'm back, my writing is much better, and I can't wait to get up at 4:30am every day to write for two hours. Thanks for this awesome encouragement.

Melissa in Mel's World said...

I absolutely needed to read that today. I've been so busy "doing" ministry that I haven't has as much time to write what I know I am called to write.

Thank you for your honest encouragement!

Melissa Mashburn

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

So glad to hear from all of you here and others on Facebook that this post was helpful and encouraging. It seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people.

Katie V said...

Thank you, Brandilyn. This is wise and encouraging. I've heard the "be grateful you don't have to write to a contract deadline before," and have always taken it in the spirit is was intended. Which has been to point out that the gras is not always greener, the path doesn't end at a contract or publication, etc. Reading the same thought here, in context with the other points really does help me see that as a blessing.

Angie Arndt said...

Thank you so much for this post.