Freedom to quit–3 reasons to take it easy on yourself (part 1)
“I wake up, I get up, and I never ever give up,” said one of my graduating students in his motivating speech. He spent about nine months trying to pass through the levels of our English program, failing several times and desperately wishing to return home to see his daughters in Saudi Arabia. I had encouraged him to stay that last month, knowing he could make it. Then, he would actually finish instead of looking back at this time in his life and always wondering, “What if I had tried one more time?”
The goal of this article is not motivation for determination, however.
Rather, this article asks the question, “When is it best to give up?”
To answer this, let’s look at a few steps. We’ll focus on writing, though these can help with any goal.
- Recognize your goal
For some of us, finishing a novel is a goal in itself. Like completing a marathon, the timing or placement is not important. It’s an awesome achievement, a challenge faced and defeated.
For others, the goal may be to make a living as an author. Whereas the first goal lies in yourself, the second requires a team, timing, and a bit of luck (if you believe in luck).
So, for some of us writers, we can take a breath and relax, knowing that we have met our goal of finishing a novel. We don’t need to feel the pressure of publishing and marketing. That simply is not part of the main goal.
For the others, write down your goal. Focus on it, not everything dealing with it.
- Check the competition
How many others have written something similar—same time period, genre, characters…
Maybe you have THE original novel of the century. It has no competition because there is nothing like it. Beware—either you have not done your research into the competition, or your book has no audience! I’ve heard it said that a book must be 10% new to sell. Even something ground breaking— like Tolkien’s fantasy world—was based on preexisting mythology.
On the other hand, the market for your book may be saturated. Fantasy, especially the vampire genre, has been way overdone recently. Some excellent, some terrible… most left unread. Many agents do not even accept this material anymore.
Now, these do not mean that you MUST give up, only that you must analyze your options carefully.
- Estimate the cost to meet your goals
The first two steps are relatively easy. Here is where you begin to find our how much you want it.
What does it cost to finish a novel?
1,000 words a day is a common goal for authors. That probably takes around an hour or so. Not much, it may seem, until you realize that equals 200-365 hours a year. That means 5+ work weeks. And that is just to write.
Editing may take another few weeks. Remember, “week” here does not mean hour/day week, but 40 hours/week—like a day job.
What do you need to quit so you can put about 8 weeks full time in this career?
Is writing worth all that it replaces, the things you can no longer do?
It is possible to publish a book for free. Win a competition or get a publisher excited enough to offer an advance.
Possible, but not always.
How much are you willing to pay an editor to proofread your novel or check your storyline? How much can you afford to pay a publisher to self-publish? How much can you spend on writing conferences or classes?
Using money for your writing means it is not available elsewhere. What is more important?
My goal in all this is not to bring you to despair—you can do that on your own! But if you recognize your goal, check the competition, and estimate the cost, you will not fool yourself. You will know that the effort is worthwhile.