When is it time to stop writing? This important question can stump writing professionals and beginners alike!
Every writer has asked themselves this question before:
When is it time to stop writing?
Maybe you’re on the cusp of burnout.
Maybe you’re experiencing arm pain.
Maybe you’re looking to move into dictation.
Maybe you’re worried your book is too long already.
Or maybe you’re just ready to quit.
The reason matters, but maybe you’re not asking the right questions. I have advice to help anyone make an informed choice on when to stop writing, regardless of their question or reason. It’s time to lean if this is just a case of self-care, taking a break, or putting down the words for good.
By tackling this tough topic, we pave the way for a healthy relationship with writing, our bodies, our mental health, and our happiness, because all are important! While writing might be your job, your hobby, or just a way to earn some cash on the side, it shouldn’t be a chore or cause distress. In this article, I will discuss when it’s time to stop writing as well as various reasons you might want to take a break, quit, or stick with it.
No matter what, you’re amazing, you’ve got this, and you’re going to shine.
When is it time to stop writing?
I think it’s important to discuss reasons you might want to stop.
Are you not feeling your story, but really want to write?
Are you feeling burnt out?
Do your arms or wrists hurt?
Are you considering dictation instead?
Are you worried your book is too long?
Are you stressing about writing?
Do you feel like you’re just not good enough at writing?
Or perhaps you have another reason—feel free to shoot us a message or leave a comment so we can help you too!
Now, if you’re considering quitting because of one of the reasons above, let me first offer my thoughts on each one. Then we’ll dive into the meat and potatoes of stopping.
1) If you’re not feeling your story, but you really want to write:
Maybe you should try switching projects. Sometimes, if one story isn’t coming together, it can be because of a plot issue that your brain is working through, or you could be bored of the story, or perhaps you’re lacking direction. These things can be solved by working on a new project, plotting out the story further, or even brainstorming to get you excited about the idea again!
2) Are you feeling burnt out?
Everyone experiences burn out at some point or another. Typically, taking time to just focus on other things can help. This can vary from housework, to a task you’ve been putting off, to an evening out with friends. Taking some much-needed you time can make a huge difference with burn out. Again, brainstorming and talking about the idea can sometimes help too—sometimes all you need is a refresher on why your story is amazing to want to get back to it.
3) Do your arms or wrists hurt?
I’m not a doctor. I’m not giving medical advice beyond this; if you’re experiencing pain, see a doctor. That said, if your doctor recommends ice, heat, or even to stop typing, perhaps consider dictation! Using voice to text can help you get your story on paper without aggravating existing problems.
4) Are you considering dictation?
You might ask why this falls under the scope of stopping writing; well, let me fill you in. Dictation is a fabulous way to write a book. Most authors can dictate faster (because talking is faster than typing for most individuals), with less pain, strain, and body issues (because you can dictate while doing literally anything, driving, walking, hiking, dishes, laundry, even ziplining, though that might just record a sustained scream if you’re a scaredy-pants like me). Many authors report that dictation increases their output while leaving them feeling better than they do hunched in front of a computer all day. But I’m counting it as stopping writing because, like with all new skills, dictation requires practice. You’re learning a new skill. Give yourself a break, take some time, and discover the true potential of dictation!
5) Are you worried your book is too long?
This is a common fear! Pop over to our sister article: How long is too long and find the answers to all your book-length related questions. We’ve got you covered!
6) Are you stressed about writing?
Ah, the looming deadline. It’s approaching, way too fast. You’re nervous, scared, worried. You’ve been procrastinating because there’s a new season of Bridgerton and you need to know what happens next. Life happens and you’re just not prepared. Well, this isn’t an uncommon situation. Writing, no matter your situation, can be stressful. Is this a reason to stop writing? Well, that depends. If your stress is affecting your life, causing undue tensions, or changing your moods, then maybe, yes. Take a break. Come back when you feel motivated to pick the project up again. And if that’s simply not possible, then honor whatever deadlines you have, then take a break. You are important, and minding your mental and physical health now can help you avoid bigger troubles later.
7) Do you feel like you’re just not good enough at writing?
This is also a very common issue. Maybe you’re new and think no one wants to read your work. You’re wrong—there’s an audience for everything. Just keep learning. Maybe you’re feeling down. Again, mental health is important, reach out to a trusted friend or, even better, a professional. If you need to put your mind at ease, consider getting a beta reader, an editor, or even a trusted friend or family member. Writing without support is a titan task; help yourself by finding people who support your dreams, regardless of where you are right now. A support team can make all the difference!
I want to stop, but maybe for a little while. I’m worried I won’t come back, though.
Trust me, this is not an unfounded fear. Many people try new hobbies or jobs, love them or hate them, take a break, and never return. I’m looking at you, treadmill in the garage.
There’s nothing wrong with making New Year’s resolutions. There’s also nothing wrong with breaking them if you need to or want to. You don’t owe anyone a completed resolution, or a book, or your art.
While I’d caution you against giving readers a middle finger—I’m very much an honor out your contracts and promises kind of individual and honestly, I recommend against giving anyone the middle finger; it’s simply not polite—I see no problem with finishing a book or series and quitting if you need or want to do so.
How can you avoid never coming back to that project you’ve poured your heart and soul into?
Well, again, I’d recommend that you simply read your writing. Something about your idea compelled you to take a huge step—writing isn’t easy—and bring your ideas to life. Sometimes, just reliving your work will light a fire under you to get back to work on your ideas.
Whether you’re writing what you love, are breathing new life into a tired genre, or just came up with something so unique and amazing you want to share it with the world, you had your reasons for getting started. Those reasons, that love, don’t just go away (usually! It’s okay if they do, but that’s rare). So by rereading your work, you offer yourself the opportunity to fall in love with your work all over again.
I want to quit, though.
Well, that’s a bit tougher.
If you truly want to quit, I have my go-to advice for authors. Reread your books(s). See? I told you that’s my go-to advice!
Sometimes this will reignite the passion you felt when writing or developing your ideas. Read your beta feedback, or good reviews. While I typically go back and forth on whether or not readers should read reviews for multiple reasons, the main one being that reviews are for other readers, not you, I admit they can be a valuable resource for where your books are hitting… or missing with readers. When you read positive reviews, this can remind you why you love to write and that there are people who love your work.
If all of this doesn’t sway you and you still want to quit, then take a break.
Here’s a big secret; writing isn’t something you have to do right now. Obviously if you’re a professional, honor out your contracts—burning bridges is never a good way to go.
There are plenty of people who love to write as young adults, but decide they have to pick up a 9-5 job. Some of them come back to writing later in life and find their voices and a renewed passion for writing.
What I’m trying to say is simple. Even if you are done writing now, and you choose to stop, that’s okay. Whether you’re a bestselling author with a huge following, or someone who writes as a hobby, you can quit. You have my permission if you need it and you should have your own permission.
There’s no time limit on writing. It’s not something you have to do by a certain age. It’s not something you’re obligated to stick with. If it doesn’t make you happy, then by all means, stop.
But, if you take a break, then realize how much you miss your worlds, your characters, etc. then you can always come back. Writing isn’t time sensitive. There’s no age cap on success. You can do this and succeed at 15, at 40, at 75.
If you tell a good story, teach something invaluable, or enjoy what you do, then you’re not wasting time. If you need a break, take it. If you want to come back, do so. You’re an author, an artist, and your art doesn’t come with an expiration date.
The brainstorming tool can help record and generate unique story ideas.