At one time or another every person in the world must make a similar decision. We all need to decide when it is time to quit doing something. It is a metaphor-rich moment.
Put your foot down.
Put a fork in it.
Walk away and don’t look back.
The end of the road.
Pack it in.
Stop playing the game.
Not going to take it any more.
Close the book.
How do you know when it is time to stop writing?
I mean permanently, stop writing.
It will always be difficult and time consuming, so if it is difficult and time consuming, that can’t be the time. There will always be critics, so bad reviews can’t be the reason. Markets shift and cycle around, so changing times cannot be the trigger to stop. Publishers will always have authors they like better. So will readers.
Even indie authors need to make a decision when it is time to give up. It’s not as if being an indie author immunizes someone from the work, the critics, changing needs of the market and the likes and dislikes of readers.
So how do you know when it is time to stop writing?
When you hate readers.
I am not using the word “hate” loosely or simply to make a point. It can be real hate accompanied by grinding bitterness.
Readers don’t appreciate quality writing. They are not interested in anything of depth. They are not smart enough to understand how important my work is.
Time to stop writing. Immediately.
Seriously, if you were a customer service representative for a company and you hated every customer that calls you, it is time to quit. If you are a teacher and you hate students, it is time to retire. If you were a pastor and hated church members, well, it is obvious what your decision should be.
When anyone begins to hate their audience, it is the sure sign they need to move on.
“Those idiots wouldn’t know a good book if it hit them in the face.”
“No one appreciates good writing any more.”
“People are only interested in watered-down messages. I won’t pander to them.”
Maybe you wouldn’t say any of these out loud, but you might think it.
Publishing books has an interesting side lurking in the shadows that is common among all artistic ventures. It is the same in music, fine art, drama, film…as well as writing. For any number of reasons, creators can isolate themselves from the consumers, lose touch with them and eventually hate them.
Because connecting with readers can be difficult, frustrating or even downright maddening, it can be quite easy to actually end up despising them.
But there is an antidote for this disease.
Pray for your readers specifically and in general, but don’t announce it. That’s right, don’t tell them. Why not?
Because you aren’t praying to make people like you. You are praying for them because God wants you to.
Prayer is a calming balm for a bitter attitude. If I weren’t a Christian, I would think it was a magic spell. And it is magic. Divine magic. It is impossible for light and dark to abide together. When light comes in, darkness leaves.
Praying for the readers of your work today and every day is the cure to the disease threatening to extinguish your passion for writing.
Praying for the readers of your work today and every day will free you to write joyfully for the rest of your life whether you are published or not.