When A Writing Buddy Walks Away From Publishing

By on March 29, 2017

Being a writer is one of the best jobs in the world.

This business can, however, be challenging emotionally and financially. The first five years or so of my published writing career, I spent more on writing than I made from it. The income not only didn’t cover my living expenses. It didn’t cover my writing expenses.

Success in this business is also a group thing. We often team up with other writers. These writing buddies push us to meet our deadlines, pitch in when things go wrong, help with marketing. Many of the writers in Romanceland are friends. We cheer for each other.

When one of us decides to walk away from publishing, it is challenging for the folks remaining. Like any loss, it can be accompanied by a wide range of emotions from anger to sadness. It often makes us question whether or not we should continue with this wonderful yet sometimes precarious journey.

Reasons For Walking Away

Writers have different reasons for walking away from publishing.

Some writers have a goal they want to achieve and when they achieve it, they move to different goals. Maybe they want to have a book published. That happens. Goal accomplished! Woot! Their next goal is to build their own house. That has nothing to do with publishing so they walk away from the business. Maybe their goal is to make a bestseller list or have a print book on a shelf in their mother’s favorite bookstore or… there are as many goals as there are writers.

That’s a happy reason for writers leaving the business. We will still miss our writing buddies but our sorrow is mixed with joy.

Then there are the writers who are ‘forced’ to leave. They can’t afford to continue writing, either financially, time-wise, or emotionally. That’s more challenging for the rest of us to deal with (and will be the focus of the rest of this post).

Self-Care First

Your friend has made a huge gut-wrenching decision. It might seem selfish to deal with our own feelings but we have to take care of ourselves to be able to take care of our friends.

When I hear a buddy has walked away from the writing or is considering it (once this is verbalized, I find the odds of the buddy leaving the business are pretty darn high), my writing day is done. I can’t focus on the words, not when someone’s dream is in jeopardy. The writing can wait for a day.

I talk things over with someone not in the business (often my Dear Wonderful Hubby). I ask him the questions I want to ask my friend yet know she isn’t in the right place to hear. I express my doubts about my own career. I cry. I get angry. I derive ‘solutions’ that I shouldn’t ever suggest to my friend.

I purge my emotions and then I can tackle the situation rationally.

You Are Not The Same Writer

The most important thing is to realize you are NOT your writing buddy. She made the right decision for her but she is a different person in a different situation. And you don’t know everything about that situation. Studies say that over 60% of people keep secrets from their spouses ( https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201406/why-we-keep-secrets-our-partners ). She’s your friend. The odds are… you will never know the entire situation.

Your writing buddy might be a New York Times Bestselling Writer but that doesn’t mean every release has sold that well. It doesn’t mean she can support her gazillion dependents on those earnings. It doesn’t mean she was covered by insurance when XXX disaster happened. It doesn’t mean she has the time to write and also care for her children and her aging parents. It doesn’t mean she can handle the harsh reviews on her most recent release, the book of her heart.

So don’t automatically think, ‘Well, if she can’t make it, I can’t make it.’ You are not the same person.

The Writing Dream Can Be Paused

The other thing to keep in mind is your buddy could return to publishing later. I’ve seen plenty of writers take breaks and then return years later, refreshed, in a better place to tackle this wonderful business.

Right now, your friend thinks she has quit permanently. Telling her that it doesn’t have to be permanent will likely result in an argument. But you can hold that ‘secret’ close to your heart, whispering in your best Arnie voice, ‘She’ll be back.’ (grins)

Communicating With Your Buddy

Once I’ve wrangled my own emotions under control, I can talk with my buddy. I’ll listen to her, offering her my support. I usually cool it with discussing my own writing issues for a while, focusing on her.

Then a week or two or three later, I’ll ask her if she wants to hear about the writing business or if she would prefer we talk about non-writing things. It can be extremely painful to hear about a dream you’ve recently walked away from. We have plenty of other things happening in our lives to talk about.

That’s how I survive when buddies walk away from publishing. Do you have any other tips?


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