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When to give up?

edited February 2012 in - Writing Problems
Pants! That is all I can think right now. I wonder why I bother. I just got feedback from my writing tutor, and to say it wasn't good is an understatement. I can't write stories, and now I can't write articles.

So why do I bother? I have thought of giving up. But the problem is, I don't want to do a 'proper' job. I want to write for a living.

Yeah, I know, I'm probably being melodramatic. But I am not sure I can cope with being a dead beat wannabe for the rest of my life. But if I could earn from writing I wouldn't be taking a course right?

Just so you know, my 'article' (hahahahahaha) wasn't original enough, was a regurgitation and that quite frankly it was poorly written for the chosen market.

Poor me :(


  • Oh dear! If I can take you back to the novel writing course that I did with WM many years ago. I had had some success with article writing but novels were a new field. There was more red ink on the page than my original typing! I'm sure you are a quick learner and will soon be getting A+++. Enjoy the journey.
  • That's one article, SamP, not your writing career in its entirety. Don't despair: take a deep breath, a chocolate muffin - the ones with the gooey centres work best for this - and a hot cup of tea/coffee/chocolate/chicory to wash it down.
    Then go to your favourite writing magazine and read its advice: sketch out a few ideas for some of the competitions, especially the ones you wouldn't normally try.
    Go and flick through a book with lots of photos in it, and see if there is something there that would start a story off in your head.
    Look at a few articles on the sort of thing you were writing about, and make notes on how they were written: how did they start? What's the first para about in relation to the title? What slant do they put on the subject, and would you be able to offer a different perspective?
    Was your article about something you feel passionately about, or just a subject you know something about? A good journalist, I was once told, knows a little about everything and everything about something: what's your "everything" subject? Maybe that's what you should be choosing for the next attempt.
    Whatever it takes, sit down and scribble something.
    We can all write crap from time to time and be convinced it's the best prose since Caxton started printing. Doesn't mean we are failures - just that we weren't really paying attention, or got lost in the nuts and bolts rather than the whole subject.
    Chin up, chocolate smile to the fore, and off you go again.
  • Never give up! (in answer to your question).

    Did your tutor offer you any constructive criticism? If so, perhaps you could try rewriting the article incorporating her suggestions, to improve your own skill as a writer. But don't worry, every writer has moments where they wonder why they bother. What seperates the writers from the wannabes is that the writers keep persisting, no matter what. Keep writing!
  • Everyone finds things that don't work for them.

    You've just had one of those low moments.

    And honestly you learn the skills you need by writing and trying new things.

    Honestly if you saw the short stories I produced twelve years ago, you'd have never believed I could write...:)

    The article may just have been the wrong type of article for your style.

  • Whatever job you chose to do, you would need to learn how to do it better.

    That's what the course is for - to show you how to improve so that maybe one day it can be your job. Negative feedback can be hard to take, but that's how we learn. Put it aside for a couple of days, then come back to it with fresh eyes and see what you can take away from it. Then try to build that into your next assignment.

    There's no guarantee of success for any of us but, as the post-it note above my PC says, giving up is the only sure way to fail.
  • [quote=Grimmy]Did your tutor offer you any constructive criticism?[/quote]

    Not really. Her comments were: giving the reader more of what they already have (lacking originality) and that it is written in the style of a text book. Then she goes on to offer 'food for thought' on further ideas.

    So really, all I can take from this is be more original and less formal!

    I know that I *must* keep going, as heather says 'giving up is the only sure way to fail'. But sometimes it feels like a brick wall.

    Any way, this is where I am happy that I have other projects on the go. I think I would have been more deflated had I not got something else to take my mind off it.

    File it away as experience?

    If only I knew how to make it better.......
  • I think a big part of good writing is finding your voice. Try some free-writing, stream of consciousness, any subject. You'll be surprised what comes up and how authentic/original it can be. I agree with Carol, looking back at my earliest writing makes me cringe a bit. It's surprising how you develop just through reading, reading, reading and writing, writing, writing. I don't know how old you are or how long you've been at this but if you love it keep at it. Ten years down the line you won't recognise that article. Making a living - that's a much bigger ask. A lot of us would be glad to make the price of a latte. But writing itself is free to do, aren't we lucky?
  • edited February 2012
    Writing tutors see their job as being to find fault - which, in a way, it is. Some are better at giving encouragement alongside the criticism. Maybe yours is not so good at this or she was just having a bad day.

    Take what you can from what she said. Have another go. And another one.... I'm not saying never ever give up (I gave up, eventually, at trying to learn to ski!) - but your time for giving up, if ever, is way down the road, a hundred miles away. Meanwhile you have lots of work to do. And you may find you start selling your articles way, way before it's time to give up.

    Keep at it, lass!
  • I knew I could rely on you lot to buoy me up. It just feels hopeless at times, when I try so hard with it.

    I mis-spoke ana. I know the chance of me making a living (at the moment making any money!) are slim, but I also know it isn't impossible. But if I can make pocket money that is good enough. I am in a fortunate position of not having to go out to work, as DF earns enough, though we don't have a luxury lifestyle. If I can make a living, well, my dreams will most definitely have come true :D
  • If you knew how to write an article you wouldn't be doing the course.

    [quote=samperkins]But the problem is, I don't want to do a 'proper' job. I want to write for a living. [/quote]

    Perhaps you need to accept that writing is a proper job and needs the dedication that all jobs demand. It also requires skills and that's why you decided to do the course.

    If writing was easy everyone would be doing it. You can't stop just because you've had a bad response.
  • Samperkins - get that chocolate muffin down you, have a Designated Half Hour's PistoffAndReadyToMurderTheCat session and then resuscitate the cat and follow the rest of BertieB's advice.
    You are not alone, though you might feel that way now.
    Does your tutor allow you to try again and send back for another critique having taken heirs advice?
    Don't give up just yet, sunshine!
  • [quote=samperkins] I have thought of giving up. But the problem is, I don't want to do a 'proper' job. I want to write for a living. [/quote]

    Well, you know, I used to feel like that. Then I went to university, lived a little, and fell in love with working in tourism. This week I've had three interviews for jobs on Hadrian's Wall [Roman Corbridge, Chesters and Housesteads.] I write Roman thrillers, and I want one of those jobs as much as I want a publishing contract.

    Now, I can't imagine doing anything else but working on Hadrian's Wall and writing my Roman historicals.
  • Don't give up on the writing if you want to write - but it might be realistic to accept that you might never make your living that way. Very few writers earn enough to live on and that includes many with published novels.
  • [quote=Phots Moll]Very few writers earn enough to live on and that includes many with published novels. [/quote]

    Bestselling crime writer Kathy Reichs still works as a university lecturer, despite being able to be a full time writer, so she stays up-to-date with the forensic science. I think it is possible to find something mutual in a day-job and writing. :D
  • [quote=Baggy Books]Perhaps you need to accept that writing is a proper job and needs the dedication that all jobs demand. It also requires skills and that's why you decided to do the course.

    If writing was easy everyone would be doing it[/quote]
    The Bagster said it all.
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