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11 Signs It’s Time to Give Up on Your Dream of Getting Published

How do you know if it’s time to give up your dream of being a published author – especially in this economy and era? These signs it’ s time to give up your dream of being a writer will help you shake off unachievable goals and set new, better ones.

Sometimes, giving up on your writing dreams is the smartest, healthiest thing to do…but the trick is know if it’s time to change your strategy and set different writing goals, or to give up on your dream of being a writer.

Here’s one of my favorite quips, from W.C. Fields: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”

Are you being a damn fool about writing – or are you simply paying your dues and putting in your time, as all long-lasting successful writers and bloggers must do? These signs it’s time to give up may help you re-evaluate your goals, or chuck them and set new ones altogether.

For more tips on achieving goals, read Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (one of my husband’s favorite books).

Why Giving Up on Your Dreams Gets a Bad Rap

Persistence is admirable – especially when you think of first-time novelists whose first book win a prestigious literary award or bloggers who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year doing what they love (and even getting book contracts!). Some writers beat all odds to achieve their writing goals.

And yet, research shows that dogged determination can lead to depression, helplessness, and a weakened immune system.

Giving up on your goals is often associated with failure and weakness. We hear the clichés “Nobody likes a quitter”, “Winners never quit” and “Quitting is not the answer,” time and time again – even if quitting is the only answer. The stigma attached to quitting goes beyond quips about quitters. For example, we see people accomplish superhuman tasks – such as running a marathon after doctors say they’ll never walk again – and we think those achievements are possible for everyone.

dream of being a writer

Dream of Getting Published

Remarkable accomplishments do happen, but they’re not the norm, says Dana S. Dunn, Professor of Social Psychology at the Moravian College in Pennsylvania and author of Research Methods for Social Psychology. “We tend to overgeneralize from a handful of instances in which people do amazing things,” he says. “The danger of looking at people who succeeded against all odds is that we don’t know how they got there. We don’t necessarily know the steps they took, their background, or the support they had.”

The notions of persistence and accomplishment are embedded in many of our communities, workplaces, and families. “We’re socialized that we must always succeed, but we don’t always recognize that we’re limited by resources such as time, circumstance, and ability,” says Dunn. “Motivation isn’t the problem. Our own infrastructure can hold us back. We don’t always have the right education, technical expertise, or resources.”

By the way, I’m not talking about writing for the sake of writing, or writing for your own pleasure. I’m talking about writing to get published regularly, or earning a full-time living as a freelance writer or blogger.

If you’re determined not to give up on your dream of writing for a living, read 4 Signs You Need to Reevaluate Your Writing or Publication Goals. But if you’re seriously struggling to make your dreams come true, then you might find these “signs it’s time to give up” interesting…

11 Signs It’s Time to Give Up on Your Dream of Getting Published

Aspiring writers – or successful freelance writers who are ready to move on – know it’s time to pursue different goals when they:

  1. Have lost their joy and passion for writing their novel or pitching their magazine article ideas
  2. Aren’t making as much of an effort
  3. Are “talking the talk” but not “walking the walk”
  4. Can’t overcome fear of failure, or fear of success
  5. Spend more time surfing the internet and reading forum comments than writing or blogging
  6. Are pursuing goals that aren’t in line with their beliefs, values, personality, and future plans
  7. Realize that their writing goals – and the process of achieving their writing goals – doesn’t resonate with who they are
  8. Dread the thought of pursuing or achieving the goal
  9. Have lost their creativity
  10. Resent the time and energy the goal takes
  11. Can’t overcome their laziness or lack of motivation. Can’t fire up the muse!

Setting and achieving your goals to be a freelance writer or novelist is challenging (to say the least!!), but if you’re motivated and dedicated, the obstacles to getting published will be balanced by the joy of pushing through and getting results. But, if the negative parts of being an aspiring published writer overshadow the positives, then writing for publication may not be right for you.

If you’re ready to give up on your dream of getting published, read How to Stay Motivated When You’re Starting a Blog. You can still be a blogger – and make money doing it.

What do you think, fellow scribes – are you tempted to give up on your dream of earning a living as a freelance writer or being a published author? I welcome your comments below…

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12 thoughts on “11 Signs It’s Time to Give Up on Your Dream of Getting Published”

  1. What do you do when your family make it impossible to pursue your passion?
    My children have special needs and behavior issues. My spouse has a ton of hobbies which include many Freemasonry clubs, and it takes up alot of his time on weekends, plus he can hardly handle the kids on his own, which makes it impossible for me to even hang out with a writer friend, promote my book at library events once in awhile on the weekends, or anything else.When I complained, he puts me on speaker phone for all his friends to hear.
    Seriousl,y writing novels is my passion and I’ve done it all my life and at times it’s been my only escape. But I’m realizing it’s just not compatible with my life anymore, and I feel devastated my family has ruined the one thing I love. I’ve sacrificed everything for them and gotten nothing in return.

  2. I read “how to get published” books all the time, even though I no longer aspire to be a published author. I’d rather blog! But last night, one of my writing books taught me the difference between being an author and a writer.

    Anyone can be a published author – a movie star, an accountant, a truck driver, a waitress, a surgeon.

    Not everyone can be a writer – someone who who writes every day.

    Which are you? I am a writer.

  3. Great topic and article. I’m coming at this not as a writer, but as a songwriter and lyricist, and really relate to the topic. My own career has varied wildly from my early expectations and that has resulted in a flurry of questions: Wherever did I get the notion, back on the day I started this journey and set my expectations, that I had any clue of how things really work? Am I being too critical of myself? What exactly IS ‘selling out’? Should I be thankful I’m unknown and not a famous, yet washed up, artist? Am I not adequately appreciating that I can currently write without constraints and thereby write what is my joy, not what is required by my publisher/record company/publishing contract/etc.? Should I appreciate more the diversity that my day job (which is not related to music and which I love) adds to my life and that feeds my creativity? Am I delusional to think that I, as only one person, can create an album that competes on an equal footing with albums made by, say, 100 people (Count the credits listed on a favourite album) and, say, a $500,000 budget? What truly feeds my soul with writing — the written product or the money and critical acclaim? Am I rationalizing ‘failure’? Is this actually, in any way at all, ‘failure’?
    This is a fascinating subject to me and I appreciate the comments I’ve seen in this thread. Thanks everyone!

  4. Great article. I think one of the traps I’m in is that I have actually had some success with getting published, but earned no money on any of those published works. Most of those were writing for an Australian alternative news magazine and while I was interested in what i was writing and got some bylines (though not a publication to boast about) I decided it wasn’t worth continuing as the editor was more than happy for me to keep writing, but for free. Really that is just using people. But like I said, most of the stuff I wrote about I was very interested in the topic. Another success was getting a short-story titled Inside the Australian Meltdown published in a nation-wide writing competition in a book which is availavble online titled Australia’s Security Nightmares. My short story was one of thirteen scenarios raising awareness about Australia’s national security challenges, selected from over 120 entries and assessed by about 50 judges. I also had some articles published in small business magazines some 12 to 14 years ago, sans pay but they gave you the opportunity to have your byline by which you could market your home business and products. I’ve also had about a dozen letters-to-editor publshed in large regional newspapers here in Australia over the past 15 years. I’ve been trying now for the past 12 months to get a proper paying gig in either a newspaper or magazine (print or online) but nothing to date. I’m not giving up yet as I have no need to make a living from this otherwise hobby, so am just taking my time to explore opportunities and test my pitches and ideas. I’m not worried about pursuing this at a level of all or nothing which I think is detrimental no matter what you pursue in life. Indeed just keep it in perspective and you never know, your persistance may reward you and you find yourself writing being asked to draft an article for publication.

  5. Im inclined to agree with Laurie about the health part of the choice to pull the plug. Number one I have a mental illness. Writing was what I THOUGHT would be a creative outlet with the hopes of selling books after getting published. That never happend and no one can say I didnt try try try again either. EVERYTHING I tried to market and promote my work including spending a small fortune I DIDNT have failed misserably. And two, Im just tired. Been tired for months now and hope to experiece SOME of the piece that comes with accepting failure. Its time for me to pull the plug.

  6. Hello Annecdotist,

    Thanks for your comments! I think the notion of never giving up on one’s dreams of getting published can be detrimental to one’s health…unless one is content to simply dream, and not actually move forward in life. That is, I can dream of being a writer all I want – but I need to heed the signs that are all around me.

    Another (healthier!) option is to re-evaluate what being a writer means to you (the “one” in the former paragraph). Maybe it means blogging instead of being traditionally published, or self-publishing your poetry or guidebooks.

    I think that’s where I’m at. I gave up my dream of being a published author in the traditional sense, and am very happy with my blogging life.

  7. Well done Laurie for daring to post on such a taboo subject among aspiring writers. When I pasted this topic into my search engine, I got a page full of stuff about how not to give up and the heroes and heroines who finally made it against the odds, but we all know we won’t all get there (wherever there is), we just don’t want to believe that we’ll be the ones who get left behind. With a psychology background myself, I know there must be a point where it’s healthier to stop trying, but where is it? It would make a fascinating research project but how would you persuade the writing dropouts to come forward?
    Ah well, can’t put off another revision of my novel any longer.

  8. Oh my, I seem to have a few of said signs. I thought that I was just experiencing burnout for a little while. Second to Charlotte, I love writing too much, as well. I’ve been writing ever since in elementary school. So let me choose to re-evaluate first.

    Thanks for the insight, Laurie.

  9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Charlotte, I’m with you! I write more for the internet than print magazines — and I prefer writing for my blogs more than any other type of writing. I used to think that focusing on blogging was giving up on my writing dreams, but now I don’t. I love it too much and it feels too good to be a cop-out!

    Kelly, I totally understand about writing to sell…and I think some writers can do it. But, the most successful, happy writers are those who write what they love to read and write. Good luck with your freelancing and your novel — I hope to hear from you again.

    Rebecca, congratulations on the questionnaire — that’s great validation about your idea! I wish you all the best with your outline…keep me posted on how it goes.

    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..Writing Quips and Tips From John Irving =-.

  10. I thought about giving up freelance writing and writing in general, but have reevaluated it. I submitted a questionnaire to see if my idea would “fly” and just heard back. Yep! My idea would sell. So…I will create an outline and go from there.

    I completed two short films which were well received by members of various writing groups. My goal is to get them produced. I wrote a teleplay which I’d really love to have produced.

    I have many good ideas. It’s a matter of choosing the ones I have passion for.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog post ..Find Inspiration within Writing Groups =-.

  11. I gave up trying to be a novelist years ago. The market just didn’t want what I was selling. Worse, I had invested a lot of time and resources in learning to write and writing in a genre I personally abhorred and never read, just because it seemed an easy way in. But I learned it wasn’t that simple. My next venture will be commercial freelancing while I spend off-hours working on the novel I really wanted to write all along. I may or may not actually market that novel.

  12. Charlotte Rains Dixon

    I’ve not given up, just re-focused. When I grew weary of the old game of sending out stories and articles to be published, I switched over to working more on the internet. When my first novel didn’t sell, I cast a cold eye on it and learned what I could–then wrote another, better one.

    I love writing too much to give it up. I’m lucky to be able to make a living at it, but even if I couldn’t, I’d still write every day.

    This is a great post on a little discussed topic.
    .-= Charlotte Rains Dixon´s last blog post ..When to Go Back, When to Let Go? =-.