Why It’s Impossible To Quit Writing – But Taking A Break Can Help


When I was in my mid-twenties, I decided I didn’t want to be a writer anymore. I don’t remember why, but I do remember it was a bad time for me. You could call it my ‘Lost Years’ or misspent youth. I was working in crummy temp admin and call-centre jobs I didn’t like. I was depressed. Writing was hard. Writing was lonely. I didn’t want to do it anymore.

So I threw out everything I’d ever written up until that point – and I threw out a lot. Stories, poems, fragments, half-finished novels. Everything.

Of course, quitting is never a good idea. But I was enjoying my freedom. I didn’t feel the obsessive pressure. I started living a bit more – running, clubbing, coasting along. By the time I was 30, I was writing again. I wasn’t writing stories, but I was journaling again.

On boring Sundays, I sometimes read over those old journals. I can see, with a sense of detachment, the recurring themes that would fascinate me later as a writer. I can see that I was trying to make sense of my own life. And I think that’s a good thing for a writer. It’s impossible for a writer to quit, but taking a break can help

Keep a journal. It will show you the path.

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This article has 2 comments

  1. Linnie Peterson

    Hi Anthony

    Whooo-wheeee! Thanks a truckload for this! I feel so much better about the two-week “I need to think a few things through” break I’ve just had!

    For the next stage of my therapy, I’m heading to your post “Why dreamers will always have enemies” because… One of the main things that would have to happen if I were to become a successful [published and the books actually sell] novelist is I would have to toughen up to handle the stress I put myself through at the merest hint of hostility, criticism and the like…

  2. Anthony Ehlers

    Thanks, Linnie. I always joke with new writers in my class, “You have to develop a thick skin – and then moisturise it like crazy.” Actually, I stole the quote from Will&Grace, but it’s a goodie.

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