How To Survive Reading The Book That Makes You Want To Quit Writing #AmWriting #Writers 

Writing is going well for you.  A steady flow of words on your first draft has given you a happy writer facial expression and a twinkle in your eyes.

“You need to read this,” gushes a close friend, thrusting a book into your arms.

Your close friend struggles to contain her book excitement and takes a large gulp of air.

“Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE on my Facebook feed is reading this book. Even my old work boss from twenty-four years ago, who is going through a messy divorce, has recently become a vegan and has dyed her hair electric blue is obsessed with it. This book is amazing.”

Your close friend dabs her sweaty pink forehead. “Did you know I didn’t go out for ONE week whilst I was reading it?”

This is not unusual for your friend, she didn’t go out for weeks when Love Island was on.

Your friend arches her sculptured eyebrows at you.  “I even turned down my new boyfriend’s offer of a date night because the book was THAT GOOD and you know how much I enjoy those.”

You gasp. Her new boyfriend is super hot. No one in their right mind would turn down a pint of cider, a packet of pork scratchings, a game of darts and a romantic wrestle on a sofa with an attractive long-haired bloke who bears a striking resemblance to Thor. This book must be special. 

She grabs your arm and in a quiet voice says, “I got a bit emotional whilst writing my book review online. Not sure what the author will think of me when they read it.”

You cast her a puzzled glance. Getting emotional whilst writing a book review is not something you could ever see yourself doing. Your book reviews contain little emotion and it’s unheard of for you to give more than 4 stars.

“Read it!” whispers your close friend pointing at the book. She hurries away muttering something about getting back to her Facebook feed, leaving you staring at the book.

Is this book really THAT GOOD?

As a writer you are always willing to read books which those you around you claim are amazing. Nine times out of ten you find fault with them and rarely get worked up about the books that come highly recommended.

Opening the first page you have a little chuckle to yourself. It is highly unlikely this book will ruffle your literary feathers. There is no way you will be leaving an emotional book review for this author.

Three chapters in…

Hang on, your close friend might have had a point about this book. The characters have taken your heart hostage, the plot excites you and the romance scenes are steamier than expected.

Half way through…loved ones hear piercing screams coming from your book reading chair.

After finishing the book you get up from your chair and…

That happy writer facial expression becomes a distant memory and is replaced with a twisted and broken writer look.

All the way through the book you could hear a helpful little demon voice saying, “you could never write love scenes like this – quit now!”

Once you have written an emotional and gushing 5 star book review, which included a declaration of writer love and a marriage proposal, you decide that the writer demon was right.

You could never write as anything as good as that book.

“Quit now!” chant a choir of writer demons from the depths of your head.

There is no way your book will ever receive the same adulation on Facebook from reading fans.

There is no way your close friend’s boss from twenty-four years ago, the one going through the messy divorce and busy cooking vegan food with bright blue hair will put all that aside to read your book.

There is no way your close friend would turn down a romantic wrestle with her Thor lookalike boyfriend to read your book.

You want to quit being a writer.

Yes quit writing immediately. It’s for the best you tell yourself.

All writing ceases for….a few days / weeks / months (this will be dependent upon your levels of writing confidence).

So, how to do you survive reading the book that makes you want to quit writing?

  1. You have to finish reading the book that makes you want to quit writing, even if loved ones find you hours later, tear-stained and stood outside building a bonfire using your old manuscripts.
  2. Avoid any rash decisions. If you start reading a book which you sense might make you want to quit writing, inform a loved one. Make sure they are on hand for the bit at the end where you finish reading it and crumple onto the sofa into an emotional, self-loathing writer mess. Tell them to steer you away from your laptop or writing folders.
  3. I find a nice selection of cheeses, grapes and biscuits help me to recover from reading a good book. Get a loved one to have one hand for when you finish and maybe a nice glass of red. A nice selection of cheeses can provide that important distraction.
  4. Always remember that you might feel like you want to quit writing after reading this glorious literary masterpiece, but in all honesty are you really going to? Are you really going to walk away from your passion? These strange things called passions run deep inside of us and their roots are difficult to unearth.
  5. Accept there are better writers out there. You can’t avoid reading material from better writers, every time you pick up a book to read you are taking a gamble. You have no idea whether it is going to be jaw dropping good. So, you might as well accept the fact you are going to encounter great books, unless of course you decide to only read books with a 1 star average ranking.
  6. Good books are sent by the universe to give us a nudge and make us challenge our own work. They are a gift even if some make us cry like babies, tweet sad GIFs and wedge huge slices of chocolate into our mouths.
  7. Once the emotions have subsided return to the book and make a note of all the good things the author has done with this book. What are the things which this author does well?  Could you learn something here?
  8. Carry on writing my friend. Ignore the demons and amaze everyone with your book.

Lately I have read some truly wonderful books so you have my sympathies if you are currently reading a book that makes you want to quit writing.

Take care writers and watch out for those pesky good reads!

Have a great day.

photo credit: anderson2011101 N05/21831136856″> via photopin (license)

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I am a blonde writer of romantic comedy fiction.

25 thoughts on “How To Survive Reading The Book That Makes You Want To Quit Writing #AmWriting #Writers 

  1. Being the average writer, I get this all the time. Sometimes I do want to tear up my own books but more often than not, I want to stop reading other people’s. Just occasionally, a brilliant read will spur me on to improve my own, but this doesn’t happen often enough!

  2. oooh, this one I don’t have any issues with. I just never compare myself at all to other authors when I’m reading; although I know find myself a more critical reader and film watcher now.

    Unless…I’m reading my own books…that is the caveat. Internally that’s where I have those like it…don’t like it issues.

    Or King…learnt early on not to compare there on genre similarity constraints.

    Great post Lucy 🙂

  3. As a children’s writer, I had one of those moments when I came across Andy Stanton’s ‘Mr Gum’ series – genius children’s comedy! But I didn’t think ‘I could never write like this’, because I used to write stuff like that when I was a teen. The sad thing is, I never thought anyone would consider publishing it so I never bothered doing anything with it. And now HE’S done it, I never will. Curses!

  4. Ah yes, I know this feeling well which is why I will occasionally pick up something that’s, hmmm how should I put this, palette cleansing to give my confidence another boost

  5. Great blog post! It really puts things in perspective. What helped me when I was reading books between drafts of my first novel was looking at Goodreads reviews afterwards. I made a point to look at negative reviews of books I loved and positive reviews of books I hated. It reminded me that taste is subjective and that no book will ever be universally loved. And that made it so much easier to write.

  6. Good post.
    I would suggest what is also required in this circumstance is just the tiniest smidge of arrogance, which allows you to say without any spite or envy ‘Uh-huh. Yeh. Good for them,’ then put it to one side and carry on with your own writing; (bearing in mind to have a mug of humility, when you do the several re-writes)

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