View Full Version : To give up or to soldier on is the question...

The Mad Geek
04-24-2008, 07:29 AM
Hello! I'm 17 years old with a passion for writing and telling stories and a knack for being creative. I'd like to write novels, but all of the samples of work I've posted in 'Share Your Work' have not recieved very... 'encouraging' remarks. I'm still young, so I'd like to know now, should I just give up and not dedicate my time to writing novels or do I soldier on, and is it worth it? Please give me your views, authors of this forum! Thank you!

04-24-2008, 07:31 AM
Give it up if you're so easily discouraged. Writing is not for the thin-skinned or the "I'm so great I don't need improvement" crowd. Otherwise, if you really have a passion for it, you know what you need to do. You're only 17. Or else do something else, like accounting.

04-24-2008, 07:33 AM
If I put up a sample of my writing from when I was 17, you'd probably tell me to give up. Now I'm 26 and I have an agent.

Depends on how bad you want it. Do you want it? If you'd rather go spend your time on something else, go do that.

04-24-2008, 07:39 AM
You're seventeen! Your work is supposed to suck. It may feel like you just don't have what it takes, but you're measuring yourself against the wrong people. Remember, the people in SYW are expecting you to compete on the same field with successful published authors. Not being there doesn't mean you should give up, it just means you have a lot of work to do.

And the work is fun. Trust me, you'll like doing it, even though you will face many times that you wonder if it's worth the time and trouble and effort.

It is. Soldier on!

The Mad Geek
04-24-2008, 07:42 AM
Thank you very much!

Dale Emery
04-24-2008, 08:09 AM
I'd like to write novels, but all of the samples of work I've posted in 'Share Your Work' have not recieved very... 'encouraging' remarks.

Perhaps you missed these:

"Hope you post another version."
"Thanks for sharing it with us and keep writing."The other comments I see are mostly about your craft, and craft is something you will surely improve with practice. And it's something that most of us suck at when we start out.

Notice also that some folks have offered detailed tips and edits on your craft. There's no way people would spend their limited time giving detailed advice to someone whose writing is hopeless. So turn that around: People's willingness to give you detailed advice is a sign of encouragement.

Does that make sense?

If you're having doubts about your writing, check out "Don't Taunt the Fear Demon (http://www.mossroot.com/worlds/2008/04/23/dont-taunt-the-fear-demon-its-tacky/)," a wonderful hot-off-the-presses blog post from my friend Richard. Now, Richard happens to be a fantastic writer, so if someone as talented Richard has doubts, then doubts must be part of the game.


04-24-2008, 08:11 AM
I'm 19, and I can safely say that my work sucks now, but I know that I can do better. A little determination goes a long way.

04-24-2008, 08:17 AM
Hey! I'm seventeen too. Soldier on, friend! Bad critiques are a fact of life. If you really like to write, you'll take the advice given and keep writing. You're young. And so am I. We have room for vast improvement.

04-24-2008, 08:28 AM
I've been writing for 9 years, finished 5 novel manuscripts and there is still a lot I don't know, do poorly at, and need to fix.

There are no short cuts in novel writing. I still find myself looking for short cuts when walking through staples, a pad that will help me organize ideas better / quicker. True is its just time in front of the keyboard night after night.

I didn't get a lot of rejections when I was young because I didn't share my stuff. I think that made the learning process longer so you are already ahead of where I was.

04-24-2008, 08:44 AM
I'm 18. I constantly find crap in my work, for it is not hard to find.
Get yourself motivated by watching interviews with authors, or reading, or listening to podcasts about it. When you're finished with that, which might be very unlikely, come into this forum and just spill out your doubts. Not just your work.
Writing a novel isn't writing a letter. It takes more than one day. It takes more than one go.
You're 17! Just be glad you're into writing when most people you're age do pretty much nothing but...you know what.
My God! me at 17, and this was just a year ago, almost, I've learned so much!
Acknowledge that you're a dynamic, changing mind. Allow it to KNOW that you're gonna have more stuff in your mind, more knowledge, more ideas, more talks, more introspective narrative, that you're gonna be able to create conflicts and dialogs better than you currently do.
Read books. Books that you think a story of yours could contain.

There's so many people out there who write and then give up for some reason.
Just think to yourself, that you might actually be one of those that gets to put a story on the shelves to entertain and enlighten people.
Some people might even give up becaue they have the impression that writing a novel is like writing a letter. And you make no big corrections. This is because they read the book and it flows. "OOO, I wish I could write like that. If it all just came to me like that. If it flwoed."
You'd be surprised how much editing goes on in "great books".
J.K.Rowling took a year, usually to write a book. And then it could be read, by some, in less than 24 hours.
A good author is one who fools people into thinking that he can write nonstop, I would guess. Where you find no gaps.

Soldier on, like you said. You're not alone in trying to be a writer.
It's no piece of cake, as I've realized. But that makes me laugh and think 'So what?'
And then I just soldier on for more stupid ideas and stuff I won't even use for my story and dialog that will make me fall to my knees surrounded by slow-motion falling Autumn leaves because of how horrible the writing is.

Again, you're 17. Aknowledge that. You shouldn't expect so much of yourself.
Realise that it's ok to put excremental prose on paper when you're young. That's how we come.
At least that's how I came. And I don't give a s**t about other people.

Matera the Mad
04-24-2008, 08:45 AM
Remember when you couldn't even walk or talk and crapped in you diapers? Didn't give up, huh?

04-24-2008, 09:08 AM
This place is actually an awesome place to hang out too for encouragement. ^_^ SYW is there to help, but just talking to people in the same boat helps too. I think my writing stinks, but it's a lot better than how I used to write. Practice and determination is key. ^.~
One of my motivators are those people that tell me "You can't write. Give up now." My answer is usually, "I'll show you." Besides the fact that writing is awesome fun. ^__^ If you want to pursue writing, go for it. It is hard but it's rewarding too. Seeing my world and characters coming to life on paper is such a thrill!

The Mad Geek
04-24-2008, 09:55 AM
Thank you! All of you, thank you so much!! I appreciate all the advice and tips!! Again, thank you all!

04-24-2008, 11:05 AM
This place is actually an awesome place to hang out too for encouragement.

I'll second that. I lurked for a couple months, registered, did some posting... and decided what the hell, I'll try to write a book.

A week later, I've got just short of 11,000 words - the single longest thing I've ever written, and still going. It doesn't suck, either. This place rocks. The people rock. The advice rocks. Just hang in there and keep going.

04-24-2008, 11:20 AM
Remember, too, that advice is just that -- advice. The only rule that should never be broken is "money flows TO the author".

For the rest, everyone has an opinion and a way of doing something that works for them. You'll hear a lot of conflicting advice. Take what works for you and apply it, but if something doesn't work for you, that doesn't mean you "can't" be a successful writer.

Easiest example -- outlining. When I was in school I was told that I could NOT be a writer unless I outlined. So I tried. And tried. And wasted time and hated the process and figured I wasn't a writer. Years later when one story just DEMANDED to be put onto the page, I sat down and wrote. Started at the beginning and when I got to the end, I stopped.

I'm a linear writer. I start with a title and then the first line, and I write through to the end. Any time I try to "jump ahead" it backfires on me.

If I'd taken that "writing rule" as a guideline, I'd have started writing sooner. If I still believed it, I wouldn't be writing today. So, just remember to listen, learn and ask questions, but always apply against the "does this work for me" test.

04-24-2008, 02:45 PM
Hello! I'm 17 years old with a passion for writing and telling stories and a knack for being creative. I'd like to write novels, but all of the samples of work I've posted in 'Share Your Work' have not recieved very... 'encouraging' remarks. I'm still young, so I'd like to know now, should I just give up and not dedicate my time to writing novels or do I soldier on, and is it worth it? Please give me your views, authors of this forum! Thank you!

You're WAY young. Don't look for a prize just yet. Just write. You have eons to go. The fact that you are exploring your passion at a young age is a great thing. It will give you plenty of years to develop it. Just be courageous enough to take the advice given to you and apply it to your future writing. Good luck. Keep writing...

04-24-2008, 02:54 PM
Keep writing, till you are ready to give up or become successful. Not because you got bad reviews. that happens to the best of writers.

04-24-2008, 03:04 PM
Meh, I suck compared to the majority of the people on here.

I've got great ideas(and I've helped other people with books), I'm literally a muse(just to toot my horn a little more), but I lack the practice and experience to truly create a good story. That doesn't mean that I'm going to give up, but it just means that I'll be writing for myself and friends, and maybe someday when I think I'm good enough, and after I've been flamed enough on my grammar, I'll make an attempt to get something published.

I pursue writing as a hobby, both because I find it enjoyable, allows for me to diversify my skill base, and it's useful in my profession(I do a lot of technical writing as an engineer). I'm still just young pup(22 years old), but I hope that by the time I get to my mid to late 20's I'll be good enough to put together something that won't cause people to cringe while reading it.

The point being, that even though I know I'm a poor writer at this point, I still plan on giving it a go, if not for any reason but self improvement.

JJ Cooper
04-24-2008, 03:14 PM
Am I the only one over thirty in this thread. Hang on, Ray and KTC are in here too.

You can either live and write late or live and keep a journal.

If you give up you'll never know.


04-24-2008, 03:18 PM
Am I the only one over thirty in this thread. Hang on, Ray and KTC are in here too.


Yes. You are safe. I'm in the over 40 club. I still don't believe it's possible... but oy vey. The birth certificate doesn't lie. Keep writing, Mad Geek. Keep writing.

04-24-2008, 03:40 PM
TMG, you should be congratulated for posting your work in SYW. That's a big step. But, please indicate how you reacted to the individual comments posted about your use of the craft. Did they piss you off? Make sense to you? Did they seem to be useless in your writing, or did they seem like good lessons for shaping your future writing? How a person reacts to SYW-type crits is critical in determining if that person is really interested in improving his/her writing or if he/she is just looking for ego boosts. Constructive criticism, even if it seems a bit harsh, is always of benefit in the long run, even if you don't use all of it. Most of the time the comments here are very constructive. Look at it this way. You have been presented with a challenge. You have posted some of your work. You have received comments for improvement. Now, really stick your neck out. Take one of those posted works and give it a good going-over with the crit comments in mind. Then re-post the modified version. If it still gets constructive comments, modify and try it again. Take a good look at the drafts and see if improvement is clearly apparent to you. If you can see improvement, and it impacts how you compose your next project, you have just moved forward in this creative endeavor. Rise to the challenge.

And, age has nothing to do with it. You will be treated as an adult here (for good or bad).

04-24-2008, 04:03 PM
Don't give up if it's what you really want to do. I had a passion for writing when I was your age but took a different path that led me away from writing. I'm writing again, xx years later, and wish I'd found the time to write all along. With all that practise, not only would I be a better writer now, I might have actually been published!

So, yeah, keep writing.

04-24-2008, 04:24 PM
Keep writing, and writing, and writing. I wish I had stuck with it at 17...then 20...then 28.

SYW was a huge help to me, and it can help you too. Listen to the advice you get...especially if you keep hearing the same things. Read and study books you love. See what that author did that hooked you in (I'm not saying try to write like someone else, just learn from them). Study craft...let me repeat that STUDY CRAFT...and practice. Writing gets better by writing.

Charlie Horse
04-24-2008, 05:33 PM
I'm gonna take the tough love approach. If you have to ask, then give up. If you're a writer you'll write, regardless of criticism and the discouraging comments of others.

James D. Macdonald
04-24-2008, 05:37 PM
Finish your book.

Start another.


The time to post in SYW (or let others see it in a live workshop) is at the second-or-third draft stage.

04-24-2008, 05:42 PM
Exactly. I'm in the over-40 club and my work still sucks.

First drafts, at any rate. It's the second, third, and fourth drafts that suck progressively less. HOWEVER, I will reiterate the tough love aspect here--if writing is truly what you love, you don't need anyone's permission or approval to continue doing it. There's nothing wrong with getting a pat on the back every now and again, but the decision--the DRIVE--has to be yours.

I've been writing since I was 7. The thought of NOT writing has never crossed my mind.




*shrug* Might want to think about that for a bit, young one. Good luck.

A.M. Wildman
04-24-2008, 05:57 PM
Finish your book.

Start another.


The time to post in SYW (or let others see it in a live workshop) is at the second-or-third draft stage.

And the prophet descended from the mount and spake thus. His words of wisdom raced across the electronic equilibrium burning with the liquid fire of forbidden knowledge. In the cities below the masses wailed in pleasure at being chosen to hear his message.

Seriously. Dramatics aside. The man knows what he's talking about.

If you haven't done so already, go peruse the Learn Writing With Uncle Jim thread. Common sense advice, facts, and no bull, well only a little. ;)

If you learn nothing else You'll learn how to make a great Key Lime pie, play chess and how to amaze your friends and family with magic tricks.


04-24-2008, 06:31 PM
How many best-selling, award-winning, multi-published authors who are in their teens and early 20s can you name?

Writing gets better with age. That's a fact.

04-24-2008, 07:34 PM
Moving to Roundtable.

04-24-2008, 08:43 PM
Keep in mind, too, that from my experience, the more you write, the sharper you write. A piece you wrote at the age of 14 will clearly be inferior to a piece you just wrote at the age of 24. So keep on writing. I assure you, you'll notice a definite change in your plotting, character development, story development, EVERYTHING, the more you write. Keep thinking of new ideas. Jot 'em down. Let your mind go, let it ride. Flesh out a novel. Put it down. Love it, live it, learn from it. Then, the magical step--the step that liberates us all--SUBMIT IT. And just hope it's something fresh in the eyes of an agent or publisher :-).

04-24-2008, 08:46 PM
Okay, I went over and read the two things you had shared. You definitely should soldier on--you've got some interesting ideas. And, yes, you could use some skill-sharpening (and gosh, if you're only 17, you've got loads of time to do that!)

Now here is some advice from a hack writer old enough to be your Mom:

A) In future, I want to encourage you to assume that anything that does not say 'STOP WRITING IMMEDIATELY! YOU HAVE NO ABILITY! YOU MUST LEARN BASIC GRAMMAR BEFORE YOU WRITE ANOTHER WORD!' is simply part of an ongoing dialogue about how you can improve as a writer.

Seriously. Don't be discouraged by critiques, even very pointed ones. As others have said, this is not a business for the thin-skinned.

B) Keep writing. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

Good luck!

04-24-2008, 09:36 PM
I'd love to see a sample of your writing.

Got anything that's around 1000 words long or less? (maybe a little longer, give or take)

04-24-2008, 10:14 PM
I agree with all of the above. If writing is something you love, you should DEFINITELY stick with it! At 17, the whole world is in front of you. You still have sooo much to learn. But writing is a learing process, no matter what your age. You will continue to grow and improve and learn new things, even at age 20, 30, 50, 75! Hell, Stephen King probably STILL learns something new about writing with every book he churns out.

The key is to keep on swimming. If you just give it up, you'll never know how great you could've been. Writing takes a ton of blood sweat and tears, but it's soooo worth it. It's possible that nothing will ever come of your writing, you may pour your heart and soul into your writing, and NEVER get anything published, but that's not supposed to be the point in writing anyway.
You write because you love it, because writing has infected your blood and now you can't not write. At this age, you write for yourself, for the pure joy of it, for the need of it, and for the challenge of self improvement with each new word you put down on the page.

If it's meant to be, it'll come to you. If it's not, then go pour yourself into something else you feel passionate about. But no matter what, just keep trying.

And I've said it before, but as far as any kind of critiquing goes, look at it this way:

If the criticism doesn't say, THIS SUCKS! YOU SHOULD BURN IT!

You can only go UP from there!
ANYTHING more than THOSE words is hopeful!
It gives you something you can use to help improve your skills and your writing.

When you look at it that way, there ARE no discouraging crits! Only helpful ones!

*Keep your chin up, do it for yourself, and keep on swimming, no matter what you choose to do with your time and interests.

Even if it feels like you're swimming against the current, and you don't know if you're getting anywhere at all, or if what you're swimming sooo hard toward is going to get you anywhere or lead to anything, you still gotta just keep swimming!!!!!!!*


The Mad Geek
04-25-2008, 01:43 AM
Thank you all so much!! Thank you, thank you!!!!

04-25-2008, 05:39 PM
I'm with Neurofizz. Do the rewrites. That is the most useful exercise possible to improve your writing. After you've spent a fair bit of time thinking hard about how to change telling into showing, for instance, you find yourself getting it right the first time. And then you get to work on something else. :D Speaking from personal experience.

Read lots of good stuff. It will help form your ear and sensibilities so that your writing rises to meet it. It's like an athlete. If he wants to improve, he plays with people better than himself.

04-26-2008, 01:09 AM
Mad Geek,

I think you will find that even if you do try to give up, you won't be able to. You may decide, "Oh, that's it!" and throw your pen and notebook across the room (or perhaps your laptop computer) determined never to utter a creative word again. But it won't work. Eventually the ideas will start spinning again, spiraling around and around, until the only way to release the creative pressure is to write them down.

So, you have no choice *but* to soldier on. It's who you are.

The Mad Geek
04-26-2008, 02:27 AM
True, that! Thanks.

04-26-2008, 03:28 AM
You don't expect to play Mozart the first time you sit down at the piano do you? It's part creativity, part craft. Take time to learn it and allow yourself room for improvement. Don't give up, you're way ahead of the game.

04-26-2008, 03:34 AM
I can tell you this. When you submit work to be critiqued, there will be some negative comments. Heck, Steinbeck could post something and get smacked around a little. Seriously, try your best not to take anything too personally.

However, you're 17. You have college ahead of you, and so much education both in and out of the classroom. You are going to go through so many changes in the next 10 years, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you have this passion, ignoring it will not help you. You must answer the call, weather you come to rival Stephen King's success or not.

Matera the Mad
04-26-2008, 07:07 AM
Sheesh, I've been over thirty for thirty years :eek:

04-26-2008, 08:06 AM
As the others said, keep writing. I happen to be eighteen (just turned in March) and my writing. . . heh, well, I've got my fair share of kinks to work out, too.

I went through the same things you are. More than once, too. The best test to see if you should soldier on or give up is to stop writing. Don't do any more writing than you have to. Ignore story ideas that spring at you. When you read, just read for mindless entertainment. Look at other people's works posted on the internet. Does your mind wander over the style used, the characters, plot, setting? Can you do these things? No? Then soldier on.

The most important part is: can you stop writing?

Posting work on SYW can be a very discouraging experience (which is why I, as a coward, don't post very much). Critters will rip apart what you thought was absolutely perfect. However, it's also their job to rip it apart. Approach an SYW critique with that thought in mind and you might find it a bit less stressful. . . or not. It still hurts to get your prose shredded.

Although I think writers should decide for themselves whether or not they should keep writing, I have told some people to stop writing because it was becoming apparent that writing made these people miserable. Why they kept going at it, I don't know. It's kind of like planting your head in a wall over and over, despite the headaches, thinking that someday, you'll break through that wall and enter the land of happycakes. It doesn't make sense.

I've always found it strange how a critique--no matter how carefully worded--can shatter us. I think it's worse the younger you are, because you have this typical adolescent pride that nothing but experience can remove. I'm not saying you, I, nor anyone else in our age group is arrogant. What I mean is that with youth comes a bit of overconfidence in our abilities because they haven't been tested yet.

Let yourself be ripped down, then build up again stronger. I think my writing improved exponentially after a few stinging critiques (not here--one of the critiques I'm referring to consisted of one word: "piss").

To sum up: keep trying if it makes you happy. If not. . . find something else to do. There are a ton of other hobbies that are probably a lot less stressful and just as fun.

04-28-2008, 01:04 AM
There is one and only one good reason to write, because you want to write. There is one and only one good reason to stop writing, because you do not want to write anymore.

If you are writing to try to please others, you won't last. If you are quitting to please others, you won't be happy.

Now, if you are just discouraged because people here or anywhere else criticize your writing when they see it, be happy somebody cares enough to respond to you honestly. Most publishers will not. They will just reject it.

But most important of all, don't believe you have to agree with everything any critic says. Arthur C. Clarke once said if he had waited until everyone who saw his manuscript thought it was perfect to get it published, he never would have been published. A large part of editing is personal opinion. Writers from beginners to experts will disagree over what is 'right' until the end of time. (Just look at the AW Novel Writing thread on dialog tag use for example!)

You can also find small writing venues that are less demanding and more fun to bolster your ego a little. Join a club with a newsletter and write for it for example.