How Not to Quit

Note: On September 17, 2020, Julie posted an updated version of this post on her personal website:

This is my first post for PubCrawl since my big news came out. For those of you who have not yet heard, I am thrilled to announce that my debut novel, Ivory and Bone, has sold to HarperCollins in a three book deal. Yay! Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Pitched as a YA Clan of the Cave Bear, this fantastical debut with a unique narrative structure tells the story of two star-crossed teens whose competing clans share a dark history, and who must choose between trusting—or fighting—each other.

Sharing this news with the readers of this blog is nothing less than a dream come true. If you’ve been following PubCrawl for long (and maybe even its predecessor, Let The Words Flow,) you know that this didn’t happen for me overnight. I joined Let The Words Flow in 2010. I’m not sure exactly when I first set the goal of becoming a published novelist, (I feel like it crept up on me slowly, developing over time,) but I think it would be safe to say the goal was fully formed somewhere between the summer and fall of 2008, six years ago.

Six years… Six years of writing almost every day. Six years of setting word count goals, of giving up evenings out and favorite TV shows. Six years of getting up early and going to bed late so I could get the writing done.

None of that makes me unique or special – I know I’m far from alone in this. Over these six years, many of you have been pursuing your writing dreams right alongside me.  But since Ivory and Bone was officially announced, I’ve been congratulated on my tenacity. A few people have said they were impressed that I never gave up.

The truth is, I almost never considered giving up. I rarely thought I was wasting my time. Thoughts of quitting only darkened my mind on the very worst of days, which, thankfully, were few.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, trying to figure out what exactly kept those thoughts at bay. I’ve come to realize that, while some of it can be credited to a naturally persistent (some might say stubborn,) disposition, much of my ability to persevere is owed to my fantastic support system. In hopes that this might help readers of this blog that may be dealing with the temptation to quit, here are my thoughts on the aspects of my life that have kept me going:

The people closest to me understand the creative process. This has probably been the biggest boost to my perseverance. Both my husband and son have their own creative pursuits. My son studies acting and filmmaking. My husband is a singer-songwriter. Since the day I met my husband, writing songs has been a part of his daily life. He has been a fantastic example for me of a person who relentlessly pursues his art. Not for glory or money or external validation, but for the art itself. Because he didn’t choose music; music chose him. His example has helped me to live as if writing chose me.

I have writer friends and critique partners who tirelessly cheer for me. Writing is lonely. By its nature, it’s solitary and isolating. That’s why I can’t overstate the impact my writing friends have had on me. To say they encouraged me would be a horrific understatement. When it felt like the whole world was telling me “no,” they screamed “YES!” Yes, you can do it. Yes, you’re good enough. Yes, you will get there. I cannot thank them enough. If you do not have friends like this around you, find them. Join a writing group. Engage with the online writing community. (The #amwriting hashtag on Twitter will lead you to lots of likeminded people.) Find people who understand what you’re trying to do. Find people who will cheer for you (and cheer for them, too!)

I blog about writing. Blogging may seem like just one more obligation, something that takes up more time and might make it even harder to keep pursuing your writing. And for some people, blogging does get in the way. But for me, blogging has been a godsend. It’s connected me with all of you who read this blog – writers and readers willing to exchange ideas with me. That process has helped me to form my identity as a writer. When you have a day job that takes up forty (plus) hours of your week, it’s easy to forget that you are a writer first. But this community keeps me focused, so thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. Thank you for supporting my posts, because every time I post I have the audacity to call myself a writer. It’s right there in my bio. Julie Eshbaugh writes fiction for young adults.

Of course, that statement in my bio is true, simply because I choose to make it true. I do write fiction for young adults. Nothing about that part of my life is going to change. Except now, I’ll have the guidance of an experienced editor. I’ll have the support of an established publisher. And sometime in 2016, some of the fiction I write for young adults will go out into the world as a book. 🙂

How about you? What keeps you writing? What’s pulled you through when you’ve been tempted to quit? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


19 Responses to How Not to Quit

  1. Cheyenne Oct 13 2014 at 8:55 am #

    First off, congratulations Julie!! What fantastic news!! 🙂 And congratulations on never giving up and being an inspiration to others.

    I feel like I’ve been through the ringer (as I’m sure a lot of people have felt), but my writing has improved because of it. I haven’t given up because a) I can’t think of anything I’d rather do, or continue to grow in, than writing, and b) the people who don’t give up are the ones who make it.

    It’s difficult when people make comments about “sitting around at home all day,” or when I see other writers — many way younger than I am — reaching their dreams, and feeling left behind. But I keep coming back to the above-mentioned point b: if I keep at it, I’m only going to improve.

    Thanks for a great post, and congrats again!

    • Julie Oct 13 2014 at 10:35 am #

      Thank you so much, Cheyenne! And I couldn’t agree with you more. Both of your points could easily be a full post here on PC. The truth is, if you love it, quitting is not an option. Many times I asked my husband, “What will I do if this fails?” and his answer was always, “You know exactly what you’ll do.” 🙂 And definitely, pushing on makes us better writers. Thanks so much for this comment! Thanks for your honesty. I know that feeling of wondering if you’ve been left behind, but that’s not how writing works. It’s a journey, not a race. Keep going! <3

  2. Katie Oct 13 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Congrats!! I saw the announcement in Publishers Lunch last week and was excited to recognize your name from Pub Crawl. Looking forward to reading your books 🙂

    • Julie Oct 13 2014 at 10:38 am #

      Thank you Katie! I’m flattered that you knew my name when you saw the announcement. 🙂 The support of this community is amazing. Thanks for being part of it.

  3. Abby Oct 13 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Congratulations, Julie! Your book sounds awesome, and I can’t wait to read it. And thank you for sharing your support system. I’ve been chipping away at my writing goals for years, and it’s definitely my support system–my husband and family, my writing group–that has helped me keep going. I also find reading about other writers’ paths to publication to be inspiring and motivating, because so many writers worked for years before finding success. So thanks for your honesty!

    • Julie Oct 13 2014 at 12:23 pm #

      Hi Abby! I’m so glad to hear you have such great support! I’m convinced it makes all the difference. And I’m happy you got something out of this post. I thought this would be easy to write, but it turned out to be really difficult. 🙂 (PS I just checked out your blog and I love it!)

  4. Andrea Oct 13 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    Congratulations!!! I’m so excited for you! I always love your blog posts and I’m thrilled to finally get the chance to read your work!!

    • Juliesh Oct 13 2014 at 1:03 pm #

      Thanks Andrea! I’m so glad you like my posts! (There have been times when I’ve wondered if PC readers might start to doubt I knew anything about writing haha.) Thank you for being part of the supportive community here at PC. <3

  5. Elora Nicole Oct 13 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    This post is so encouraging. What keeps me going? My people around me who believe in my words, my business that pushes me to write the best way I know how, and my readers (since I’m indie). I still hope for the traditional deal. Until then, I keep writing. I keep believing. Giving up is not an option.

    • Julie Oct 13 2014 at 8:29 pm #

      Elora, I LOVE this comment. I LOVE that you say your readers keep you going. Some of my published friends here at PubCrawl say that same thing. When I was writing this, I tried to keep in mind the indie published readers of this blog, because I didn’t want to leave anyone out. I’m glad you found it inspiring. 🙂

  6. Rowenna Oct 13 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    Julie, there are some people who deserve every last good thing that happens and you’re one of them–watching you work the past six years has been inspiring! And you know what? That’s one thing that keeps me going–seeing success of people like you!

    The other thing…I don’t think I’d know what to do with myself if I didn’t write. I mean really–I don’t think I can not write, so I might as well do so with some sense of purpose!

    • Julie Oct 13 2014 at 10:04 pm #

      Rowenna! You made me tear up with that comment!! You are so sweet – I appreciate your support so much. How could I have ever gotten through these six years without that? Thank you so much! And I love what you said about not being able to not write. That’s it. That’s the blessing and the curse, right? But I love your approach. Do so with a sense of purpose. <3

  7. Victoria Grace Howel Oct 14 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Thanks for this. I’ve been really down lately since I really thought I’d at least get an agent this year, but they all fell through. I’ve been seriously writing for almost six years and I’ve felt really disappointed lately that after all I’ve done that it’s still not amounting to anything yet. Thanks again for the encouragement.

    Stori Tori’s Blog

    • Julie Oct 20 2014 at 5:25 pm #

      Hi Tori! Somehow I didn’t see this comment when you left it, or I would have replied sooner. I’m so sorry to hear that you are feeling down. I checked out your blog, and it definitely seems like you are doing all the right things! It can be discouraging when you think something (like getting an agent) will happen in a certain time frame and then it doesn’t. There are things we can’t control. But the words on the page are yours, and that’s where the joy is, right? <3

  8. Hamed حامد Oct 18 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    I hope you believe me when I say I’m genuinely thrilled (for the lack of fulfilling word) that you published your book. And yes, of course it proves not giving up and writing what you love pays off but also points out that it only happens to the best of us. I mean you might want to consider writing a post on how some of us are not cut out to be a writer and we should do not waste our lives.
    Any ways, Congrats! I feel like listening to Nina Simone’s” feeling good” right now.
    About that question, for me, sometimes I write out of sheer boredom and sometimes just because I want to show my dad it’s not waste of god given time by being the first Iranian who’ve won Nobel prize for literature. But mostly it’s because it’s the only thing that makes me feel I’m not here and that’s addictive. Sometimes it’s impossible not to write.
    Please leave a like somewhere so we can purchase your book. Even though I have no way of having a credit card of any kind due to living in I ran. ( I probably will call someone who knows someone.)

    • Julie Oct 20 2014 at 5:33 pm #

      Hi Hamed! You are so sweet! And YES – I 100% approve of your goal to be the first Iranian to win the Nobel prize for literature!!! I love what you said in your comment that sometimes it’s impossible not to write. And your reasons are so varied, but all very valid I think. As far as writing a post recommending that people quit – I think I read a post like that once! It gave every reason you could think of NOT to write, and then concluded that, if you could accept any of them, you should quit. The point was that writing is a struggle and you should only put yourself through it if you have no choice. I guess you and I have no choice, right? Thanks for being so supportive. I really appreciate it. 🙂

  9. Alexa S. Oct 20 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    Congratulations, Julie! I’m very much looking forward to reading Ivory and Bone 🙂 Also, I enjoyed your post! These are some great thoughts on how not to give up – and I agree that a support system is just so incredibly vital, even though it seems like writing is such a solitary activity.

    • Julie Oct 20 2014 at 5:36 pm #

      Hi Alexa! I’m so glad you commented so I can thank you individually – you are ALWAYS so supportive of me here on the blog. You are definitely part of my support system! It really is true that writing is solitary. Sometimes, just knowing that likeminded people are out there can help make it easier. Thank you so much for always commenting and being an active part of this community! 🙂

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