I read a post the other day in which the author talked about the messy business of first drafts, how they are meant to be messy, and how she has known first time writers who are so discouraged by the quality of their first writing attempt that they abandon writing forever. If this just describes your situation, you’re not going to like what I’m about to say to you.
If you stop writing (period), because you’re discouraged by the quality of your writing, you are not cut out to be a writer.
If your next thought is how could I ever say such a thing to potentially fragile new writers, that’s ok. My answer to you is there is not one single author out there who has not glanced in disgust at his or her work in progress or finished draft, some of which we have labored over for years. The difference? We tried again.
If you really want to do something, you’ll do it. Whether it’s writing, playing an instrument, learning to code, or eating that extra slice of cake, you will always find a way to do that which you REALLY want to do.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
When I was in high school, I fell in love with the Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering art, especially anything that had a dragon in it. I mean, IN LOVE. So, already being something of an artist, I decided I would enroll in art school for illustration. When I arrived, I had visions of being able to create beautiful fantasy art. Reality soon set in that I just don’t have a talent for that kind of illustration. Not to the level I wanted, at least.
I realized I could have spent hour after hour in classes and getting one-on-one help, and in the end, I might have made it close to the level I had hoped to achieve. That just seemed like a lot of work to me. Why? I didn’t really want to be an illustrator. If I had, putting in that time would have been no problem.
Fortunately, I fell back on one of my other loves, and I discovered I had both a talent for it and a desire to be better at it. I really wanted to be a writer, and no matter how many dings I’ve taken in this business, I keep coming back for more. I can’t imagine my life as anything other than a writer.
So, if you can’t take the dings in this business - from yourself, your friends, reviewers, editors, some jerk on Twitter - and these inside/outside things make you consider no longer writing, I recommend you reconsider whether or not this business is for you at all. Being a writer isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok.
Don’t worry, taking a break from writing is just fine, but it’s the coming back that is key. If you keep coming back to writing, no matter what, take heart - you are definitely cut out to be a writer.