Mistake 70: Quitting

from 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: If you quit, then you’re rejecting yourself. I’ve seen many people with a lot of talent simply pack up and go home. They quit. I’ve seen others with perhaps less talent keep plugging away and eventually make it.

There’s the classic story of the young violinist who managed to wrangle an audition with the master he had always admired. He went in and played his heart out. When the young man was done, the master simply shrugged and said “Not enough fire,” and turned his back. The young man was crushed and quit his career as a musician. He went on to do other things with his life. Many years later he met that master at some other function and relayed this story. The master was quite surprised and shrugged once more and said: “I tell everyone that. If my simple words stopped you, you really didn’t have enough fire.”

The solution:
The only person who can stop you from being a writer is you.

So don’t quit. You never know what’s going to happen. Have a backup plan. For instance, I failed as a solo writer several times, but had a backup writing career going under various pen names, so I was able to stay alive in the business. I think a big mistake many novice writers make is thinking they have it made. You never have it made. Jenny and I are probably working harder than we ever have right now.

You’re never okay. You’ve got to keep pushing. Study the lives of those who have succeeded in the entertainment business, because writers are part of the entertainment business. Watch Inside the Actors Studio and shows like that. Get rid of the mindset of the overnight success. If Don’t Look Down breaks out, I’ll be an overnight success after thirty-three books and sixteen years. And even then I’ll still be at the beginning of really pushing it hard to make it even further. In a way, I’ll have just begun. But writing is a lot of fun also. Sometimes we get too gloom and doom. I’d rather be doing this than anything else.

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