How do you know when it’s time to give up writing?

Writer’s Doubt! Should I write a book?

Lately, I spend a lot of time on Medium. Many of my posts I repost there. It’s an exciting platform, but I don’t understand it. It’s often difficult to find a story I read a few days ago or send someone a private note. I don’t know why certain writers are featured and others not. Quality is not the deciding factor neither is relevance.

It’s an excellent platform for budding writers to learn. However, like other platforms, influencers get the eyeballs. Many follow then unfollow once you follow. I feel my role there is to support influencers of which I am not. My stats are dismal after one year. They seemed better when I first started.

My stats lack engagement or claps. 1-2 views a month is more depressing than motivating. The platform made me rethink my content and competence as a writer. What am I doing wrong? How can I get a black audience? Should I write on trending topics? Perhaps I suck as a writer and need to hang it up.

My blog of five years keep me going; however, that’s fading. It’s disappointing to spend hours sometimes days on a post for 12 views.

To keep motivated, I tell myself someday people will pay to join my blog. Unfortunately, that day seems more unlikely as time goes on.

What do I do? Keep writing? Maybe it’s time I focus on writing a book, do less blogging and spend less time on social media.

I’ve read so many advice on writing and blogging that encourage me never to give up. But maybe that’s advice meant for white culture. For POC, external forces intentionally hold black people back unless we conform.

Perhaps if I wrote about things that entertain them I might be a successful writer. Probably if I pretended to assimilate, I could write in a manner acceptable to those that determine our success. Writing to a black audience has not been emotionally rewarding.  I want to be successful like everyone else.

I may have to accept writing is not for me.

Overcoming my fear of writing is a work in progress. Growing up no one imagined me blogging or becoming a writer nor did I. My love for science grew out of my fear of writing. The fear of writing took root when my Jamaican accent fueled laughter.

Chemistry came more natural to me than English. Being Jamaican, I struggled to integrate broken British English, Patois and Black American slang into proper American English, unlike my brothers who didn’t struggle. I repeatedly failed. It didn’t take much pounding for me to see I sucked at writing.

Curious too that I would suck at writing since I was an avid reader. When I was around five or six, my father bought a set of encyclopedias with four or five hardcover children books of fables and classic short stories, each book over 200 pages. When I wasn’t playing cowboy and Indians with my brothers or catching grasshoppers, I was lost in the world of fables, reading each book cover to cover, over and over again. On frequent occasions, I even ventured to the adult books for research. Despite good reading habits, I was a poor writer.

Teasing made me self conscious of my accent. I became timid and shy about talking. I had a habit of starting a sentence and stopping in mid-sentence because I felt no one was paying attention. I felt this way every time I opened my mouth. Those experiences led to a narrative that made me avoid writing. I hated everything about writing.

My love of reading blossomed In the world of gigantic science textbooks, my love of reading blossomed. Complex scientific problems and at that time a photogenic memory meant I could argue with my professor over a question graded incorrectly. You know what I was always correct, at least, that’s my recollection. In a world of science, “bad English” was overlooked in the interest of progress.

Writing is unavoidable. I found ways around my fear to get the job done. Every once in a while I would attempt to write some flowery prose only to sound like a complete moron. Hey, I tried! With the advent of the internet and social media, I couldn’t resist the urge to comment after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Then in January or February of 2013, I decided to start a blog. Hitting my head did something. The old fears disappeared. I still sucked at writing, but I didn’t care. For the first time, I finished my sentences. People listened to me, not a lot but enough to motivate me. Ever so often I wrote a sentence or a paragraph that read like Leo Tolstoy when he wrote War and Peace or my favorite Anna Karenina. It would marvel and mystify me. How did I do that? Too bad I lacked consistency.

I wish there were an easy set of rules, but there aren’t any. Writing is hard work, but when your words glide off the screen into images and thoughts, it’s a beautiful moment. How come eloquent writers make that seem natural?

To overcome my fear of writing I had to write to please myself. My passionate about a topic filled my mind with words. When I started blogging it felt like I was screaming. The less interested I was about the issue, the more difficult it was to get started or organize my thoughts to write. It’s hard work when you know nothing about a subject. Commenting got my feet wet and ensured I wrote something every day. There were times on LinkedIn my comments could have been a short story. I never let negative feedback my grammar be a deterrent. I kept commenting and blogging.

Writing gave me a voice, but I still lacked confidence and feared writing. The turning point in overcoming my fear came from reading other blogs and reading my posts before publishing.

I read not so much for knowledge but to study how a talented writer made their point or kept my interest. I also wrote down words my favorite bloggers used to describe ordinary objects. I studied their styles and format and created a glossary of words and expressions that I look at when I get stuck or lost for words.

It was an eye opener when I started reading my posts before hitting the publish button. OMG! Did I publish that crap in my name without reading it first? Yes, I did! Unbeknownst to me, I had a dreadful fear of reading my writing.

Writing is a process of repetition and reiterations. To overcome the fear of writing, I wrote about things I loved to do or were of interest. I kept writing and reading the works of other writer’s as well as reading multiple drafts of my work.

I haven’t yet written my book. I wonder if that is what I should do now instead of bumming for views. Blogging was a fantastic experience and a lifeline but have I maxed out? Perhaps it’s time to pivot to writing a book or hang it up.