There are many times and legitimate reasons why a writer stops writing. After I had twins, for example, I didn’t write a whole lot. Ditto for when I was pregnant and throwing up. My muse had traveled to happier places and I wished I could go with her.
But here’s when you shouldn’t give up–right after you get an editorial letter. At that point, you’ve done 2/3 of the work. (Or 1/2 of the work or 1/3, you know, depending on the manuscript.)
Not coincidentally, that’s the moment when you’re going to want to quit. I just got an email from a would-be author who received his first editorial letter, and he told me he’s decided to stick with advertising. I feel for him. I’ve quit my writing job half a dozen times. The problem is, there’s no place to actually turn in your resignation letter. And if you’ve signed a contract, you still have to do your edits even though in your mind you’ve sooo quit.
By the time your edits are done, you realize your book is actually better for going through that harrowing experience, and you already have ideas for your next book. So you do it all over again.
I was going to wrap up this post with some stirring motivational thought about not quitting, but as I reread it, all I can think is: wow, writers are sort of gluttons for punishment. I guess we are. But the byproduct can be a beautiful thing.