I Almost Quit Writing

Nearly twenty years ago, I was totally spent as a writer. I’d endured a three-year process of revision and revulsion on one book that had me doubting my ability and drained of all enthusiasm for writing.

I’d had a good run. I’d authored or coauthored numerous articles and books. I’d won awards and appeared on best-seller lists. I didn’t need the stresses of editing and revision, contracts and deadlines.

So I prayed.

I do that when I get desperate–and there’s nothing good on T.V.

And God answered. I decided, before throwing in the towel, to write a proposal for a book that would really float my boat, a project that I would enjoy more than anything I had written to date. I sent it. I never got an offer.

But a couple months later, an editor who had seen my proposal contacted me and asked if I would be interested in an assignment to work on a project called The Prayer Bible. It wasn’t the door I had knocked on, but it was in the same neighborhood.

For the next couple months, I spent my workdays praying through the second half of the Old Testament, praying God’s Word, a process that not only revived me and stoked my prayer life—I believe it saved my writing ministry.

If I had given up then, my novel The Bone Box—a timeslip novel before I knew what timeslip was—would never have been written. My dream of writing a novel based on events in my Amish family’s history would never have become the historical novels (coauthored with a distant cousin), Northkill and The Return. My love for Shakespeare and the Bible would never have resulted in The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional, a labor of love that offers a daily reading based on a short quote from Shakespeare’s works with a corresponding or contrasting verse from the King James Version of the Bible (which was produced in the same era, country, and city, by men who knew each other). My longtime dream of writing children’s books would have died on the vine, long before I got the inspiration for Don’t Close Your Eyes: A Silly Bedtime Book.

And those are just some of the 30+ books I’ve been blessed to write and publish since the day I didn’t give up. Some have made money. Some have won awards. And, more importantly, some have touched lives. Maybe even changed a few.

So don’t give up. No matter where you are in your writing journey, no matter how discouraged you may feel, consider the impact of all the words that remain in your future. The readers you may gain. The articles and books you may have in you. The lives that are waiting to be touched—maybe even changed. It’s going to be worth it. Maybe soon, maybe not. You don’t get to decide the timing.

But you do get to choose to persevere.

 

64 Responses to I Almost Quit Writing

  1. Avatar
    Sheila Harkins October 2, 2019 at 3:12 am #

    How encouraging. Thanks for sharing!

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    Maco Stewart October 2, 2019 at 3:28 am #

    Perseverance seems to be the Theme at the moment. We’ve discussed it in my critique group, and Rachel Gardner also posted about it yesterday.

    Thanks for the details of your blessed story, Bob. Faithful perseverance not only is the foundation of success, it is worthy in its own right.

    • Avatar
      Ken reed October 2, 2019 at 9:22 am #

      Bob, are you the Bob Hostetler who went to Eastern Mennonite College? If so, we’ve met! Would be good to connect again.

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    Terry Whalin October 2, 2019 at 4:24 am #

    Bob,

    Great article here about the necessity of continuing no matter what. We’ve both seen many people give up in the process and not find the right publisher. Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 144 times and now is one of the best-selling series in the English language. You have to persevere in this business.

    Terry
    Straight Talk From the Editor

  4. Avatar
    Diana Derringer October 2, 2019 at 4:25 am #

    Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  5. Avatar
    Nancy Mehl October 2, 2019 at 5:10 am #

    Needed to hear this today, Bob. Thank you.

  6. Avatar
    Nancy Lavo October 2, 2019 at 5:10 am #

    Wow! Thank you for the powerful word at a critical time. Looks like God is continuing to use your words to impact lives. Well done.

  7. Avatar
    Cindy Coppa October 2, 2019 at 5:30 am #

    Wow, great article. Thx for the encouragement.

  8. Avatar
    Deena October 2, 2019 at 5:31 am #

    Thank you for the encouraging post. I pray my writing will result in changed lives as your has. Keep writing!

  9. Avatar
    Terri Robinson October 2, 2019 at 5:35 am #

    Thanks for this encouragement today!

  10. Avatar
    chris Storm October 2, 2019 at 5:45 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. Amidst all the rejections, I always tell myself that God has a plan, His ways are higher.
    So, why the wait? Maybe it’s a time of learning and growing, maybe strengthening. Maybe it’s just not the right time yet. But I know one thing for certain: God is good; He loves us.

    Still pushing onward and praying like crazy!

  11. Avatar
    Roberta Sarver October 2, 2019 at 5:52 am #

    Bob, a timely post for many of us, no doubt. God has a way of using your words to encourage people. Thanks for being available to Him.

  12. Avatar
    Richard Mabry October 2, 2019 at 5:58 am #

    Bob, I did quite writing, but apparently God had other ideas and brought me back. He has better ideas, doesn’t he?

    • Avatar
      Daphne Woodall October 2, 2019 at 9:17 am #

      Doc was that before your first book which I read and gave a copy to a new widower when it came out.

  13. Avatar
    Janice Heck October 2, 2019 at 6:04 am #

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  14. Avatar
    Meagan Briggs October 2, 2019 at 6:05 am #

    So good! Thank you for this, Bob. It came at a good time.

  15. Avatar
    Debby Kratovil October 2, 2019 at 6:07 am #

    I totally enjoy your writing, Bob. Bought your Bard & the Bible a few weeks ago and it is a part of my every morning. (Would love a searchable database of all the Scriptures . . .) The key to writing is to just keep writing. Feelings follow (or may not). Let your fingers do the talking. When I go back and read some of my own words written during a time of stress, sadness, etc – I can sense what I was feeling and that’s because “words mean things.” You don’t have to feel like doing something to do it. Just write!

  16. Avatar
    Kathy Nickerson October 2, 2019 at 6:20 am #

    Okay. (Clicks off Netflix.) I won’t quit today.

  17. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 2, 2019 at 6:28 am #

    I cannot face this any more;
    I’m hurting, don’t you see?
    But ‘quit’ is not an open door,
    and it never was ’bout me.
    Today, again, I’ll push ahead
    onto cancer’s blazing spear,
    for if I don’t my words fall dead
    to betray what I hold dear.
    The only meaning to be found
    in a life gone quite insane
    is that which hearkens to the sound
    of people gathered in His name.
    Writing’s therefore this one thing I do
    no matter what I’m going through.

    • Avatar
      Daphne Woodall October 2, 2019 at 9:23 am #

      Andrew have you thought of publishing all your encouraging verse you’ve shared on this blog? A young friend was just diagnosed with a rare cancer for the 2nd time since six years cancer free. She has a husband and 4 yr old son. I’ve been mentoring her in writing and she’s on our church staff.

      • Avatar
        Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 2, 2019 at 9:47 am #

        Daphne, the poems have been collected, and will eventually be published, though probably not by me.

        I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. If I may, this is specifically for her…and for you, in your concern and sorrow.

        Behind a closed and bolted door
        live the tears I cannot cry.
        There is so much here to live for,
        and it’s too early for goodbye.
        From behind this door I fiercely guard
        to protect my shreds of dignity,
        I hear a knock, from a hand nail-scarred,
        and He wants to sit with me.
        This door doth have no outside knob,
        and opens only from within,
        and so I reach with silent sob,
        to let this well-loved Stranger in.
        With rush of tears there comes a smile
        to mark ending of mine own exile.

    • Avatar
      claire o'sullivan October 2, 2019 at 3:02 pm #

      you are in my prayers every day bro. every day.

  18. Avatar
    Jennifer Johnson October 2, 2019 at 6:28 am #

    It is difficult to know if the doors that keep closing is a call to keep trying or one in which God is saying *no*

    • Avatar
      Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 2, 2019 at 2:13 pm #

      Jennifer, this is for you.

      God has closed so many doors
      on which my heart depended.
      He was not deaf to what I implored,
      but my plans were not what He intended.
      I wanted long and gracious life,
      and He set me in the face of death,
      to be parted soon from world and wife,
      and then He animated breath.
      He gave me cause to count the ways
      in which pain could not kill joy
      and He’s led me through the dreadful days,
      putting words in my employ.
      In His honour I saw fit
      to never, ever, ever quit.

  19. Avatar
    Barbara October 2, 2019 at 6:32 am #

    Bob,

    I always enjoy your posts (though I’ve never commented on them before). But I wanted to tell you how very encouraging this one particularly was! Thank you for writing it and sharing it today.

  20. Avatar
    Tommy Thompson October 2, 2019 at 6:33 am #

    Great article! Thanks!

  21. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D October 2, 2019 at 6:38 am #

    Thanks so much for your encouragement, Bob! Your words mean a lot.

  22. Avatar
    Savanna Ammons October 2, 2019 at 6:40 am #

    This is an excellent reminder, one that the Lord knows a lot of us need. I had a period like this recently… I was sick of writing. I was burned out on my stories, the ones I’ve been working on for years. And I was wondering… was I wrong to think that I loved to write?

    And then I started taking an English class for school. From the start my professor had us writing personal stuff, and then, because God knew I needed it, she had us write some creative writing stuff. (When I told my sister, she was confused because, at least to her knowledge, the class was supposed to be an academic writing class). And with the prompts that my professor gave us came my spark again. I realized I just needed something new for a while, but that I still love to write. Thank You, Jesus!!

  23. Avatar
    Bryan Mitchell October 2, 2019 at 6:52 am #

    Thanks for this encouraging post, Bob.

  24. Avatar
    Nancy B. Kennedy October 2, 2019 at 7:02 am #

    So glad you persevered, Bob! I, too, came to that point two years ago. But I powered through and have a book releasing in 2020. I agree that perseverance is as important as writing skill. Even when I seriously considered quitting, I thought, “What else will I do with my time?” And I couldn’t come up with anything! Well, maybe go to England again. Congrats on powering through the low points!

  25. Avatar
    Wendy L Macdonald October 2, 2019 at 7:04 am #

    Thank you, Bob. I needed this. By the way, my grandson and I love your children’s book.

    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

  26. Avatar
    Daphne Woodall October 2, 2019 at 7:08 am #

    Bob, as a struggling writer myself it’s a tug of war wondering if God would have me do something else with my time. But I’ve always sensed God’s timing is better than mine and he is revealing himself on this slow journey. So I remain patient and meanwhile testimonials like yours encourage me to keep going. Thank you and all of the Steve Laube Agency for encouragement you provide here so often.

  27. Avatar
    Joey Rudder October 2, 2019 at 7:18 am #

    Amen! Thanks, Bob.

  28. Avatar
    Lisa Dixon October 2, 2019 at 7:22 am #

    Timely, perfect…whew

  29. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 2, 2019 at 7:36 am #

    If you quit, then you’ll never know what the words you didn’t right might have meant to the person who never got the chance to read them.

    I have to believe that life has meaning, especially on a day like this, when…well never mind. It’s discouraging to live it, much less write the details.

    But the thing is, only I can be the agent of that meaning, because only I can choose the words that describe the seeds of joy that can only be broken open by the heat of the wildfire flames of cancer.

    If the words die on my lips, in my hand, then the meaning dies with them, and the lifeline they may form for someone I’ll never meet isn’t thrown to their failing grasp.

    • Avatar
      Judi Clarke October 2, 2019 at 7:45 am #

      Very encouraging, Andrew. Praying for your day.

    • Avatar
      Christy October 2, 2019 at 2:59 pm #

      Praying for you!

      When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

  30. Avatar
    Judi Clarke October 2, 2019 at 7:42 am #

    I needed this today. Thanks, Bob.

  31. Avatar
    Luci Tumas October 2, 2019 at 8:05 am #

    This post was timely for me. I haven’t received 144 rejections (as Terry Whalin mentioned above) but enough to start me wondering if God has something else for me to focus on. So I’m moving on to another writing project as I’m not convinced that God telling me to stop writing. Thanks for your encouragement today!

  32. Avatar
    Elena Corey October 2, 2019 at 8:23 am #

    Amen. I almost quit morning every day. Lacking assurance that my efforts to share my thought will reach or benefit even one other person is a powerful brake.
    But prayer reminds me of the overcoming reasons to keep trying–to get better and then offer my best.
    Thank you for sharing your story. Yea!

  33. Avatar
    Christine L Henderson October 2, 2019 at 8:26 am #

    What i’d like to hear is what you did for those two months while you were waiting for a response to your dream proposal? Did you keep writing?

  34. Avatar
    Dean Lohse October 2, 2019 at 9:02 am #

    Maybe you meant, “When you are ready to give up, give in to prayer.” God called you to keep writing, but He may be calling me somewhere else. I think it is less about perseverance, than it is about obedience.
    Thanks for sharing so honestly about your journey.
    Blessings and peace.

  35. Avatar
    Jetta October 2, 2019 at 9:24 am #

    Thanks, Bob. Encouragement at the right time, along with a second helping this week of “persevere.”

  36. Avatar
    Kim Vogel Sawyer October 2, 2019 at 9:49 am #

    Bob, my great-niece, Claire, insists on “Don’t Close Your Eyes” as one of her standard good-night stories every evening before bed. Thanks for giving her (and her parents, who love the simple story) so much pleasure.

  37. Avatar
    Bob Boeck October 2, 2019 at 9:49 am #

    Bob; Good words of encouragement. Thanks for your transparency and honesty.

  38. Avatar
    Brennan S. McPherson October 2, 2019 at 10:51 am #

    Wow, Bob. What an intensely personal and beautiful story. It’s clear you told this with the knowledge that every writer goes through periods of intensely mixed emotions over their writing. That every writer questions whether it’s worth it to keep laboring over words people may or may not read. I’m very glad you didn’t quit! God’s used you much because you stuck around and kept with it. Blessings on all the work that remains ahead of you! In Christ…

  39. Avatar
    Nanci Rubin October 2, 2019 at 11:12 am #

    Thanks Bob for reminding us…Faith is patient.

  40. Avatar
    Ann L Coker October 2, 2019 at 11:20 am #

    Hupomone is the only Greek word I know, even though my husband was a professor of Greek. It means perseverance, endurance, lasting patience. So we press on because of the call of God upon our writing.
    Bob, I’m so glad you persevered to write the Bard and the Bible. Enjoying it daily this year.

  41. Avatar
    Holly Friesen October 2, 2019 at 12:43 pm #

    Bob, I really needed this today. I have been on a book idea for 4 years, and last 90 days I found a wonderful printer and editor. The editing process has been hard and although I am almost done, the editing and rewrites keep going. I was reading the Psalms and they really spoke to me. Psalm 41:1″ How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.” Then I read your post today and I was so encouraged! I knew it was the Lord encouraging me to preservere. You have had all the same feelings and you did not give up. The Lord is saying to me not to either. He gave me the idea for the book and He is blessing it. I know it will be a HUGE blessing. I was delivered today from despair and God used YOU! Thank you so much!

  42. Avatar
    Jane Ellen Reid October 2, 2019 at 2:19 pm #

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. Both in this blog post and at OCW last summer. Your kindness and your wisdom are both helpful.

  43. Avatar
    Holly Friesen October 2, 2019 at 3:04 pm #

    Thanks

  44. Avatar
    claire o'sullivan October 2, 2019 at 3:17 pm #

    Timely message I so needed to hear, today. Last night I prayed about this gazillion year effort and wondered, Lord, is this my calling? I was pulled out of one season to another, so believed this was it. I was at a true low last night, thinking I was a Mark Twain’s laugh track as a talentless hack.

    So, I can say with confidence… been there, done that, got the tee shirt and the letters. Many letters.

    I plan to put this one aside, in prayer, wondering if in the atheist critique group from the US, to a Muslim woman, to the UK (several!), and Canada… was that God’s purpose or should I push on? I looked over Steve’s Market Guide book last night and that’s when I said… I don’t know, I just don’t know.

    I have a handful of others, a reinterest in NanoWrimo and may work on one or the other or .. the other… etc. They are all Christian fiction and the main characters have been in a steaming fit, ready to walk off the set.

    By the way, I LOVED The Bone Box. Great book! And I am going through the OT again and posting when (almost always) where I see Christ and prophecy. Praying that this too will (first be well-discerned. Just coz I went to Bible school, I still ain’t a theologian) reach the lost and especially those who are Jewish.

    Thank you, wonderful post.

  45. Avatar
    Brenda L. Yoder October 2, 2019 at 6:01 pm #

    Thank you Bob.

  46. Avatar
    Seralynn Lewis October 3, 2019 at 7:48 am #

    Thank you SO much for sharing your journey! It’s a difficult road fraught with obstacles and thoughts of unworthiness but prayer is a big factor in whether we proceed and walk with conviction or whether we wither on the vine. If God has called you to write, He will see you through it.

  47. Avatar
    Kathryn Lang (@Kathrynclang) October 4, 2019 at 7:17 am #

    Glad there was nothing good on tv that day 😀

  48. Avatar
    Norma L. Brumbaugh October 6, 2019 at 1:22 am #

    Prayer unlocked the door. Quite a good story. Thanks for sharing.

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