At What Point do you Give up?

Sorrry for being ‘noisy’ on this forum. I’ve just spent the last three hours ‘polishing’ my manuscript, and sending off two more …useless…and impossible query’s. Could I have wasted my time any better? But really, at what point do you just give up, and call this writing thing a ‘hobby’ instead of a ‘passion’?

Don’t mean to be too depressing, but I just like conversing with Y’all.

I’m sure to receive some hostile responses. I’m sure there are many ‘holy warriors’ out there who are prostrating their soul and giving all they’ve got in the pursuit of their dreams. And I say “God Bless Them”. But for me…to repeat the refrain from the (too) many rejections, “It’s a Pass”.

Yeah, maybe time to quit, and move on to other things. Maybe I could pay more attention to my Wife…my Children…my Grandchildren…if I wasn’t so damned intent on getting published.

Just something for all of us to think about.

I wish Michael weren’t so busy right now and could chime in. Michael J Sullivan is a VERY successful writer of fantasy novels. The first novel that got past the gatekeepers and was published by a small traditional press was, if I remember correctly, the FOURTEENTH he wrote. He was in his 40s at the time. Now he’s a hybrid writer in his 50s and a millionaire.

Maybe THIS manuscript isn’t going to get published. That’s okay! Did you learn while you were writing it? Then it wasn’t a waste. Write another one. Work with critique partners. Then work with beta readers. How’s your understanding of the craft? If you need to, pick a weakness and work on making it better. YOU are the only one who can get you further along this journey.

As for it being selfish… so what? Everyone I know has SOMETHING they love that they do for themselves. Should you spend time with your wife and family? Of course! Should you give up your hobby or passion or profession to do it? No! And I wouldn’t think much of the family that demanded that, especially if THEY get to have hobbies. Your life has room in it for more than one thing.

Finally, rejections. They happen. To everyone. They suck. They hurt. But you can learn from them. Not getting any requests for partials or fulls? Fix the query and/or your opening pages. Getting requests for partials, but no further requests for fulls? It’s likely the writing. Getting requests for fulls? Then you should be getting feedback. LEARN from your rejections. Does it send you back to the drawing board? Tough noogies. Accept the challenge and do better. It’s a journey not a destination.


Ximera, Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. Much wisdom imparted. Thank you. I just think that sometimes it just time to give up and move on.


i ask myself this time to time but there is no right answer to this. you can follow your passion while doing other things too. get back to writing with new energy when you get bored from other things. find a balance, i would say.

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XimeraGrey, Your words of wisdom are very well accepted here. The only thing I can say is “Tough Noogies”. Is that Australian?

Thank you.

Nah. American. I think I’ve been saying it for decades, though. So it may be circa 1980…

Ok. Here is me. I gave up writing the past 2 years. Like not ven one word.

This year I lost my job, haven’t been able to get another one & the 1st draft that I am uploading on Wattpad is keeping me sane.

Do I want to be a published writer one day? Of course.

I think it boils down as to why you write. I write because I can’t help it & I would regret not giving it another shot for the rest of my life…

Keep going and hang in there.

For a good chunk of years I gave up on writing. I was tired of spending countless hours on queries and synopses that went nowhere, so I definitely get where you are coming from.

My only piece of advice is to try a different approach. Have you entered contests? Things like Pitch Wars (there are others like it with similar formats like QueryKombat if it’s still around) where you can get your work in front of countless agents and publishers? In fact, I think it starts this month.

There is PitMad on Twitter where you pitch your book in less than 280 characters. If an agent likes it, you have a direct link rather than trying to get them to even look at it. This runs four times a year and there are many pitch contests like it that are specific to genres.

There is also the #MSWL hashtag (manuscript wishlist) on Twitter that has agents requesting certain manuscripts. Again, another way to bypass being in the slush pile.

I think the best thing I ever did was get a Twitter account. I’ve connected with so many writers and found all these new ways to get my work in front of publishers and agents.

All I wanted was to get published. And when I started writing again back at the end of 2014, that was my goal. And I entered a contest (didn’t win in, by the way) and from there I finally got what I wanted. I wrote a book I loved, people loved reading it, and in 2017 the contract from a publisher finally came.

Don’t give up!

Give up what? Writing? Getting traditionally published?

The only time you should give up writing is when it’s no longer fun. (I guess the exception to that is if you are making money and do it for the money. Like someone hating their job but needing it to pay the bills.)

As to publishing, it depends on your goals.

Do you want the validation that your novel is good enough for a traditional publisher to invest in? Then keep chugging away with querying and submissions. At some point, though, you may have to give up on a novel and write another and try again. I gave up after 6 queries and self-pubbed because I didn’t have the tolerance for the industry.

Do you want to see your book on Amazon and/or have a copy on your coffee table? Then you can self-publish it. That will require an investment on your part, time and also money if you need to hire people to do various aspects of it. And if you self-pub to earn money, you’ll need to invest in marketing.

I guess it boils down to — What drives you?


Thanks to all for your responses. I apologize for my repetitive posts. Just going through some soul searching and wondering what it is that I really ‘want’ from my writing.

“What drives you?” To quote you Blayde. Yeah…that is indeed the question.

I don’t have an answer, and so maybe it’s time to take a ‘time out’ from writing.

It honestly comes down to why agents aren’t picking up your book.

I’m not published, nor have I queried yet (I don’t feel like I’m “there” yet, you know?) but I’ve been looking into the industry for future references and really? There’s a lot of factors that goes into why your book is being turned down. To give a few common examples, here’s some of those reasons:

  • The industry isn’t looking for what you have.

The sucky thing about the industry is the fact that it changes all the time. There’s a lot of genres, plots, and tropes that are “trending” and is one of the main reasons why specific stories get picked up. Not all will because they’re not part of this circle. For example, you may have written an adult sci-fi fantasy novel when the publishers are looking for YA fantasy.

This doesn’t mean you should write toward the trend. You definitely shouldn’t because once you’re finished writing that trend, the trend will have already sailed off into the ocean. However, pay attention to what’s coming out currently (and maybe in later years) to see if you can hop on that train with your story.

  • They have a book similar to yours.

If you send your book to an agent, they may reject it not because they hate it, but because they already have a book similar to yours. Agents and publishers have to be careful on what books to distribute as some stories can be very similar to one another and cause problems both for you and the publishers.

This doesn’t mean you should give up hope though. Keep sending it to various agents as they may find it interesting and something they may be willing to take on.

  • Your query wasn’t good.

The first thing agents see is your query. You’d be surprised that over half of the query letters that get sent in is instantly rejected because the writer didn’t do it correctly. If you talk about yourself more, for example, than your book it’ll be thrown in the trash. If your query doesn’t have a good pitch, it may be put aside. If you don’t know how to pitch your story or can’t describe what the main plot is, then they may pass on it. And, worst of all, if you query to an agent who doesn’t represent the genre and target audience you’re writing for? Then your manuscript is doomed. Meg LaTorre is a former literary agent and in her video, she described that a large majority of people who would query an agent tend to go for any random person. Thing is, you need to do your research on the agents you plan on sending your manuscript to. There tends to be hundreds of people who are, for example, sending their adult romances to YA agents. And if this happens, they’ll easily reject it.

She also says that if you not only do your research and make sure your query is spot on, then you’ll be part of the minority that of those who are (actual) potential clients.

  • You’re just not ready.

And finally, you may not be ready to be published. Most authors tend to say that you should have written at least three novels and that the story you’re currently querying is revised at least four times before being seen by an agent. This is so the agent can tell that you’re not an amateur and that you have some experience with writing. They may also reject it because they see potential in you, but this isn’t the story that they think they can sell.

Overall, understand that the publishing industry is a very long and tedious process. Some people get published years and years later. I once heard of a guy who finally got published after twenty years of trying. And it’s not always about publishing, but finding that right agent. Some writers go through multiple agents until they finally become published.

Also, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get published right away. Delia Owens is 70 years old and published Where the Crawdads Sing which is her debut novel.

If the book you’re trying to get published isn’t happening, then let go of it and write another story. Or, perhaps, it just isn’t meant for the industry. You can always self-publish.



Hello, So more than a month later…after giving up writing…I am far happier. All those negative and nagging thoughts that vexed me all day are gone (you should be writing! You should be working on your novel! You should be filling in those plot holes!). Nah…I don’t really give a crap anymore, and I am much happier.
Perhaps writing is an addiction (just a thought), and breaking an addiction feels good.
I remember earlier in my life I wanted to be a rock star. I was quite a good guitar player, and even played in a band that actually made money playing gigs. But one day (rhetorically of course) I woke up and realized that I would never…ever be Eddie Van Halen…not even close. I decided to hang up my Stratocaster and get a real job. Now…decades later I’m glad I did.
“Hold on to your dreams! …You can be anything you want to be if you just try hard enough!”
As I have begun to reach my ‘golden years’ I have accumulated much wisdom (much of it very hard earned), and one of the most important things I have learned is how to ‘let go’ of dreams. Often times ‘letting go’ of dreams is even harder than achieving them. I know, that is quite an oxymoron …or…conundrum…or something similar, but somehow I think that it’s true.
Today I listened to a beautiful song. I’m not sure the artist but the name of the song (and the theme) was ‘This one’s for the girls’. One of the lines really impressed upon me, it said: “You’re beautiful just as you are”, or something like that. That really impacted me, as I drove my car down the road. How really poignant and meaningful a line!
I’m not a great writer…probably won’t ever be one. I’ve written …and some of my stuff is pretty good.
But, just as with my guitar playing a few decades ago…not good enough.
I’ve let go, and it feels pretty good.


I really, really needed to read this. :blush: Thank you for updating us on how it’s been.

Interesting perspective. The flip side of this is that many people who do achieve their dreams very easily miss out on a major insight into the human condition, and some of them never grow up. There is a lot to be learned from not getting what you want in life.

I think you should look at your situation differently. For instance, if you were a tree, would you question at what point should you stop providing oxygen? Every thing in nature has been carefully designed over many many years to serve a purpose. So the deeper question really is: Are you serving your purpose in the world or not by writing or doing things with writing? Like a tree, is writing the oxygen you give the world? It would be silly for a tree to complain about providing oxygen to the world and want to be a rock instead. We are what we are and we serve the purpose we serve.

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But a tree or a rock has no choice about what its purpose is, or whether to serve that purpose. It has no capacity to decide that it’s not happy with the purpose that it’s been assigned, and no ability to do something else even if it could decide that it wanted to. Depending on your philosophical or religious viewpoint, trees and rocks don’t even have a purpose: they just exist.

A human’s purpose could be anything. How am I to know what my purpose is? If I have some choice in that, how am I to decide? How am I to serve my purpose? What if I don’t want to serve my purpose, or I want to serve some other purpose? Is that OK, or will it just make me miserable?

I suppose this is what makes humans so unique compared to the rest of nature. Philosophers argue different viewpoints to aid us in figuring out our purpose: Determinism, Freewill, and Compatibilism. I think there is a moment for many people where we do something and we just “know it” as well.

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In many cases, yes, I think so. It’s maybe like wondering how you’ll know when you’re in love with someone - you’ll just know.

I also don’t think our purpose has to be connected to how we gather resources (or make money), but can be.