What Have You Given Up for Your Writing Dream?

by | Apr 29, 2009 | The Writing Life | 287 comments

“The Wrestler” got me thinking about the sacrifices writers make. While it’s certainly possible (and advisable) to live a balanced life as a writer that does not involve Randy “The Ram”-esque self-destruction, everyone I know who has succeeded as a writer had to give up something to get there, whether it was time doing something more immediately fun, spending time with friends and family, or the ability to read bad writing without cringing.

What have you given up for your writing dream?


  1. Timothy S.  Lane

    Health insurance… (I’ve been missing that dental!)

  2. Dayna Hart

    Most of us give up housework. And I wish I was kidding, but I’m really, really not.

  3. Fawn Neun

    Two votes for housework.

  4. Anonymous

    A job that would have paid over $400K in the first year.

    No, this was not one of those “EARN MONEY ON WEBSITES WHILE YOU SLEEP” things. Yes, this was back when it was considered cool to pay executives signing bonuses. I just didn’t think the increase in salary would compensate for the reduction in writing time.

  5. Josephine Damian

    Amen to the housework and yard work.

    And I opted not to get married or have kids so I can focus on writing.

  6. Dani

    TV and housework. I hated housework anyway. 🙂

  7. joelle

    My job!

    I live in Canada now, but for years when I lived in the US, I was without health insurance because I was a writer. For years, I worked part time to allow myself to write which equals no insurance, and then I quit working entirely (supported by my fab husband). Now I have a book coming out and I live in Canada with provincial health care, so things are a lot easier, but you definitely give up any sort of financial security because publishing takes soooooo long. I’d like to blame the state of the house on writing, but I don’t think I can actually do that. I’m just a challenged housekeeper!

  8. Tami Boehmer

    I gave up a very stressful PR job and have traded suits for sweats.

  9. RW

    For me, so far, it has been another career I enjoyed and that certainly paid better. I enjoyed the work but once I finally realized I could write the novel I couldn’t face not writing the novel. I had to give myself the best possible shot, which meant prioritizing the writing time over that other career. I get by with part-time and contract gigs and a very supportive spouse.

  10. Dorothy

    This is a bit off beat but tis true. I gave up being Webweaver in the spiritual community I co-founded. Webweaver is the CEO title–unpaid because it is one of those utopian 21st century hippie things. It was also a larbe part of my identity.

    The woman who replaced me is doing a fine job. I still write and teach for them, but had to let go of administrative responsibilities. This experience is a real lesson in loving with an open hand and sitting on my ego. Some days are easier than others. The fiction writing, however, is more than compensatory. Loving it!

  11. Andre Vienne

    Housework, TV, ability to read bad writing, and the ability to sound coherent when discussing my project to people who have steady jobs.

  12. Alexis Grant

    I’m living with my parents at 28yo after 10 years out on my own! That’s some serious momentum to write fast…


  13. lauren

    Cooking. Fortunately, my husband is better at it than I ever was. He enjoys it more, too. Score!

    My blog. I wrote it for 11 years. But it was getting in the way of my fiction writing, ’cause I had gotten into the habit of every single post being long and involved. It was impossible to do both. I miss it, though.

    Good judgment where my Internet use is concerned. Now I can always pull the “it’s research for my novel / for the publishing industry” excuse when I spend a lot of time reading industry blogs or looking up stuff that relates to my characters.

  14. Anonymous

    Sleep (no, not all of it) and TV.

  15. giddymomof6

    I have 6 kids. My life is busy, but I’ve always done stuff. Since writing 7 books in the last 13 months I’ve given up directing a children’s theater camps and I’ve passed on several portrait painting opportunities. I’ve basically become a recluse–but it’s paying off! So it’s worth it.


  16. Anonymous

    a small tush..

    wish that wasn’t true but writing definitely contributes to the bottom line and not in a financial way.


  17. Natalie

    Some days I feel like I’ve given up my sanity and common sense.

    I have given up some time with my husband, and I try to write during nap time. I feel like I’ve found a good balance, but I’d be lying if I said my kids have all my attention all the time.

    Folding laundry is definitely low on the priority list…

  18. Heather

    Mostly it’s the time thing.

    When I really started, as Jane Yolen would say, “writing at white-hot speed, oblivious to all else,” I stopped doing things like Bunco night, BBQs with friends, camping weekends, etc.

    I would work, come home and spend dinner with the fam, then disappear to write. I have a preschooler and a husband so I have to spend time with them. But I knew I was maybe writing too much during “mommy time” when she appeared next to me, ghosting her fingers across the keys of her Little Einsteins laptop and “Writing like mommy.”

    Also, when I’m in writing mode, my house is a wreck and I don’t call my friends like I should. Luckily they call me, or we’d lose touch for a while.

    But for me, the manic writing usually comes in spurts of just a few months. It’s not like I’m giving things up for a lifetime. And when the project is complete, I make myself take a few weeks to catch up on everything before starting the revisions process.

    I think balance is important

  19. Ian

    Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Still, I can always do them after I’ve finished this chapter.

  20. Cat

    I am a trained landscape gardener and I still miss it. Sometimes, I don’t even have ebnough time for my own garden. On the other hand, I am glad not to work there any more because it was really hard on my body. All in all, writing has always been my goal and although I miss gardening I do not regret my choice

  21. Eric

    Is this type of topic the first of what’s going to become a regular “Cheer ’em up Wednesday” post? An effort to thin our ranks by culling those waning in spirit? Hope not.

    Other dreams.

  22. Myra

    Long phone conversations, floors from which you could eat, General Hospital, my “real” job, and years of that nagging feeling that I was missing something.

    Nothing that wasn’t worth it.

  23. Courtney Milan

    “Nothing that wasn’t worth it.”

    Myra, I think you just said it all.

  24. writermomof5

    A clean house, television, and most of the time, a social life (not counting my online social networks).

  25. learningtoread

    Dayna’s right. Whenever I’m working, nothing gets done. Whenever the house is clean, beware: I haven’t written lately, and I am cranky about it.

    That said, off sweep, vacuum, and do laundry. Consider it a warning. 😀

  26. freddie

    Well, I haven’t given up screwing around on the Internet. Obviously.

  27. Julie Weathers

    We bought a house eight years ago that had to be gutted to the outside walls and rebuilt. My youngest son and I did almost all the work aside from the wiring and the addition we had framed in.

    Fifty-five cabinets were all handmade and finished, including punched tin inserts in the upper kitchen cabinets. We rebuilt some walls and sheetrocked, tape and bedded, plastered, painted, wallpapered and wainscoted all the walls. I tiled floors the floors and counter tops.

    It took six years to get that almost finished.

    One night I sat down to write a bit after spending fourteen hours solid laying tile. My ex came in from work and wanted to know what I was doing at the computer.

    “I’m not doing anything wrong. I just sat down to write for a while before I go to bed.”

    “Yeah, Julie. You’re going to write a book and sell a million. It’s time to grow up and quit dreaming.”

    I decided if it didn’t matter how hard I worked, I would never “earn” the right to sit down and write, it was time to do something different. So, I walked away from a house I loved and planned on dying in. A house filled with memories of me and my son who is in Iraq working on. I walked away from some type of security to wondering how I was going to survive. I walked away from my horses that I loved. I walked away from thirty-four years of marriage with very little.

    I walked to not having to feel guilty if I sneak off to scribble down a few paragraphs. If I never sell anything, at least I paid for the dream, so I don’t have to apologize for it.

    Was it worth it? I think so. There will never be another home Will and I built together, and that is my biggest regret. Everything else can be replaced in time.

  28. PurpleClover

    *Sleep (the only time I can write is after the kids and hubby are in bed so that means writing until the wee hours of the morn sometimes)

    *Housework (wasn’t that hard of a sacrifice to make)

    *TV (no kidding…I can no longer watch all the shows I used to even on DVR if I want to write…so I’ve limited them to three major ones)

    *I also spend one weekend evening writing. My hubby usually plays poker or hockey one night and we do date night the other. So the night he’s playing I’m writing instead of getting a babysitter and going out with the girls (though this does happen).

    *Food network meals. I used to love to cook meals from the Food Network (especially Giada’s recipes!). But I’m now relying on frozen lasagna, take out, and other short cuts.

    *Self-esteem. Giving up these things (housework, cooking, etc) makes me feel like I’m not a great wife or mom. I find myself looking for ways to “make up” for it but I know it’s guilt.

  29. Kasie West

    A very unfortunate side effect of writing for me has been that I can’t read books like I used to–for the pure joy of it. Now, no matter how hard I try, I analyze when I read. I hope I can eventually learn how to shut off the writer part of my brain because I LOVE to read.

  30. Chuck H.

    The mystery is solved! I haven’t given anything up to write and that’s why I’m not published. I guess I’ll have to give something up like maybe reading blogs all day. Might as well start now. ‘Bye.

    Word Verification: pudflux. No comment.

  31. Juliana Stone

    Well, I have laundry coming out the cachenga…piles of paperwork on the desk (hubby will fire me soon, I swear) dust bunnies galore, and oh yeah…the dog needs walked…BUT I’m now getting paid to write…..so worth it!

  32. Rita Arens

    Further success at my editor-in-corporate-America job. I recently cut back to four days a week at work to concentrate on freelancing and writing more books. I’m trying to expand into picture books after Sleep Is for the Weak (Chicago Review Press, 2008) came out last year. Pitching and querying are incredibly draining and time-consuming, so I’ve sacrificed my career track at work to focus on my extracurricular writing career.

  33. Anonymous

    Many people may not believe this, but I gave up on the idea of having kids to write. I may never be published, but I started my novel right around the time my husband and I were trying to get pregnant. I smoke when I write, so I chose to give up on the idea of a baby to see this project through.

    It’s not as dramatic as it sounds: I was on the fence about kids anyway. And we may end up having them later. But if we don’t, that’s okay too.

    I’ve also given up television, phone calls to old friends and full nights’ of sleep.

  34. sex scenes at starbucks

    I’ve given up what every working mommy has to give up:
    a spotless house, playtime with kiddos, three balanced meals a day…(that’s what Flintstones vitamins are for!)

    But what I’ve gained… brilliant friends, a burgeoning career, self-respect, and a lot of joy.

  35. Anonymous

    Wow,Julie, I cannot fathom. You have
    my awe.I was touched terribly and deeply. Wow.

  36. Conni

    Julie, that’s amazing! Congrats on doing it for yourself.

    As for me… I’m about to give up a full-time job that pays fairly well (and its benefits…) to go to as-needed temp work. My profession pays well, at least, so I won’t be drowning in bills. We’ll see how having 40 extra hours a week affects my writing 🙂

  37. sally apokedak

    This feels like such a backward way of looking at things. I always look at writing time as the thing I have to sacrifice for other things.

    I have a family to care for so I have to sacrifice my writing time for them. But not watching TV? Is that a sacrifice?

    I’d rather write than go to the park with the kids. I’d rather write than own a house. I’d rather write than work nine-to-five and have health insurance. I’m not sacrificing for the writing. I’m doing the writing because it’s what I want to do most.

  38. Laurel

    I don’t sleep much even though I have always been a person who needed plenty of sleep. The only time I can get long blocks to myself to write is after the kids are in bed. Unlike JoAnne, my tush has gotten much smaller since I only eat sporadically. I’ve lost about thirty pounds since I started and I was not overweight to begin with. House is trashed. My mom is mad at me because she knows I’m up to something but I’m too squirrely about it to tell her what I’ve been doing instead of calling her every day.

    It’s the oddest compulsion I have ever experienced but I have enjoyed it more than anything else I’ve ever done. I suspect when I wind down my current project I will resurface for a while. But for right now, even if I’m not typing I’m writing. People talk in my head while I fix dinner, drive, bathe kids, even when I’m talking with someone else.

    It’s not a sacrifice, yet. I expect it to be sometimes, though. If I ever have deadlines for someone else, turn it into a job, I will certainly have to give up something to write or revise. Everything is like that, though. Other people sacrifice things for their jobs or their families or occasionally total strangers but there is always a payoff. It’s a choice. Which would you rather? I’d rather write. Unless I’m reading.

  39. Anonymous

    I gave up focus time in a few other areas that like to have all of me because when I’m on a creative project, it has to have my main focus.
    But I didn’t give up the other areas.

    For the past eighteen months, working on a novel, what I gave up -that I am about to take back:

    *daily walks and exercise
    (not a great idea, writers! If you can walk daily, your ideas and your figure stay truer to the cause!)

    (well that’s a writer’s life, also an artist’s, a mother’s,etc. However, it can be hard on the budget,and affect your self-esteem if you can’t pay your bills, get your teeth fixed, etc. And when those rejections and passes come in,
    you feel stupid, stupid, stupid and sometimes so stupid.)

    (not missed at all)

    What I didn’t give up was Love, Family, my Dreams.

  40. MJ

    Julie, I think you have a story right there. What dedication you show to yourself, your integrity and to writing. Wishing you a ton of good things for you in your writing dreams.

    As for your ex-husband’s comment, my ex-husband said that to me, that’s why he’s an ex (well one of the reasons). My second husband is 120% supportive of my writing career and without his support and love I don’t think it would have panned out for me.

    I gave up most things that everyone has listed, housework, and entertaining people. I used to have dinner parties (10 plus guests) now I don’t want to, as I’d prefer to spend what little time I have left over from work, kids, etc, writing.

    I also think I gave up non-writing friends, not by choice, but I have met some wonderful writing friends and it’s not that I replaced them, but my non-writing friends and I don’t click as we used to. Maybe we never did.

    Life is way too short not to do something for yourself, as long as it’s healthy and doesn’t harm you or anyone else, I think GO FOR YOUR DREAM!

  41. Scott

    I suppose the fact that I’m single, live alone in a town that’s practically deserted for 8 months out of the year, and have no children/plans to have children makes it look like I’ve given up a lot, but I think I’d be living the same way if I hadn’t “quested” for a music and now a writing career. In that way, my striving to achieve success in my art/craft is something of its own perfect marriage.

    But what I do give up is a certain amount of peace of mind. I could have achieved lots of other things with the time I’ve taken to swim upstream in a career aspiration that pretty much comes right out and says “give up” from the get-go. But this way, I’ll have no regrets–even if I have nothing but a few published short stories to show for it.

    The jury’s still out if I’ve sacrificed my eyesight and a significant portion of my sanity. We’ll see. 🙂

  42. charlesdentex

    I gave up commercial clients, and never missed them, but I did take a revenue dip that lasted for a number of years. I gave a part of my social life – I do tell family and friends NOT to come visit while I am writing, but, miraculously, when I am writing I don’t miss them. I gave up the ability to do any other work with any kind of enjoyment. And, yes, I some of the pleasure of writing just to be writing, to phrase my thoughts and chse them around.
    Ah well.
    Ask me what I gained …

  43. Helen

    The majority of television and a vast chunk of my social life. Also lie-ins, since I normally get up early on work days to squeeze in an hour of writing and on days off work to make the most of the morning.

  44. terryd

    A “planned” career and all that comes with it – retirement savings, various insurance products, house, new car, clothes that don’t come from Target, travel, vacations and myriad “stuff” that most other professionals take for granted.

    But my novel has a pub date of July 2010, and I’m looking forward to buying better shoes.

  45. Anonymous

    I think a full life contributes to a writer’s work.

    So I have tried to add it in.

    I have also seen a lot of writers seem to debut after their families were raised.

    What helps along a project is learning how to just open up your work and do

    a little section every day.Really, truly. Everyday.

    And, some days will take you through spell check and others will be a paragraph or a page and still others will be 10,000 words down.

    It is more than having a month to write. It is consistent and doesn’t take your rich life away, but lets your life and art dance.

  46. CNU

    1) Sanity,
    2) a steady job, friends,
    3) money (*printing is pretty expensive. *),
    The respect of some bloggers (opinions are dangerous),
    4) space on my resume,
    5) time,
    6) meals (*Spiritual fast in 2007- skin and bones (Picture found here: http://ChiChi-Usera.deviantart.com/art/Game-Face-54601839 ),
    7) The respect of my family (They’re rich and all lawyers, father- two uncles and my brother… all attorneys- I’m the black sheep writer.)
    8) An apartment in downtown Denver. I really miss that…

    I lost everything for my dream.

    I suppose the closest analogy I could give would be the biblical character Job.

    And sadly, if I had to do it over again… I’d probably do the same thing.


    Because this is what I was meant to do. This is what I’m passionate about. This is what I love.

    “Books ought to be the axe for the frozen sea inside of us.”- Franz Kafka.

    “Dream on…”-Steven Tyler.


  47. Shelli Cornelison

    A steady paycheck and a somewhat clean house. Mine was never really sparkling clean but there was a time you could sit in a chair without having to shift a load of laundry down onto the floor.
    I don’t call friends and siblings as much as I should. Thank goodness for FaceBook.
    Now that could start a whole new thread on the things we’ve added as a result of our writing that aren’t necessarily writing related. Not that I want to give up FaceBook, but I could — I could quite anytime, I just don’t want to. I am not an addict.

  48. Sarah Laurenson

    Volunteering at Shambala – my favorite big cat rescue. Time with friends, family, pets.

    Housework? Luckily I can pay someone to clean every other week. Ohterwise…

    Though cleaning out the boxes of crap in the garage is still waiting.

  49. Rick Daley


    (I’m practicing the art of brevity, making progress)

    WORD VERIFICATION: redulles. Doing something very boring a second time.

  50. Lisa Katzenberger

    I gave up a nice salary so I would have time to go to grad school full-time and get my MFA in creative writing. Then I gave up grad school so I would actually have some time to write. And now I’m quite happy!

  51. Bane of Anubis

    Julie – sorry – I couldn’t imagine the frustration of that situation. My wife can be ultra-critical, but she’s completely supportive of my writing goals…

    As far as I what I’ve given up – some self-confidence and some of the facade of ego.

  52. Casey

    Housework, cooking, time with my family, my social life, and furthering my education. I plan to continue my education but I’m putting it off until my kids are older and this manuscript is submit-ready.

    My job suffers too, especially lately. I’m self-employed and work at home so it’s really hard for me to prioritize between work and writing when the kids nap/go to bed, etc.

  53. Judith Leger

    I gave up…being afraid of letting others read what I write.

    I even managed to give up the emotional anguish of rejection, taking it with acceptance and perseverance that I will never please everyone all the time. Feels kind of good too, overcoming these phobias we writers suffer with every day.

  54. Gabriella

    I gave up having a straight spine 😉

    I’ve been hunkered over a keyboard for several years. My profile in silhouette looks a LOT like a wildebeest (but a smiley one that gets to write!!!)

  55. Scott


    I give up time with my partner when I’m obsessing over my writing. I give up time towards . . . housework, the animals, cooking (which I love, love, love to do – but I love writing more), nights out with friends, reading endlessly, relaxation, and so many other things.

    Then again, any dream worth having is worth the sacrifice . . . for the most part.

  56. Merry Monteleone

    What have I given up for writing?

    Sleep (gotta fit it in whenever I can)

    Housework (okay, writing’s just an excuse on the housework thing – I’d rather play on blogs or stare into space than dust anyway)

    I can’t say I’ve given up work, because I gave up working on my career to raise my kids anyway… now that I am starting back at work, I’m just going to have to work writing around that, the same way I worked it around being a full time stay at home mom.

    On another note, though, there are sacrifices to acheive any goal or career path. We writers think we’re more special sometimes, but really, I think I gave up more (as far as financial and career gains) to be a mom.

    I think anyone going after their dream job, no matter what that dream job is, gives up some things to get there.

  57. jjdebenedictis

    Julie, I’d never heard the whole story before. That’s awe-inspiring.

    I gave up Nathan. Well, not completely, obviously.

    I had to pry myself off the internet, because it was too addictive and too time-consuming. I learned a lot about publishing on it, and then it was time to move on and get back to writing. I pared down the blogs I read and installed Leechblock to limit the time I could spend on those fun sites that are such time-sinks.

    El Husbando and I had already decided not to have kids, so wrangling myself is my biggest challenge. I’m lucky.

  58. Anonymous

    You know, thinking about what I DID give up, it wasn’t FOR art or writing.

    I gave up being in the best place for my art so I could raise my child in the best place for her, a less dangerous place, one where she was more protected by the law.

    That was very hard for the art.

    But the way I saw/see it is this:

    The art/writing, etc. could always be re-energized later.

    A childhood could not.

    I wish I had had more choices, more middle-ground in making that choice.

    It cost a blooming career to come to a screeching halt and I have not yet succeeded in relaunching it.

    But it was a choice of loving another person, a child who depended on me to make the best choices for her best interest.

    I did. I would do it again.

    It was painful for my art. Absolutely.

    But love is the best thing I am trying to pass down in this world.
    And, to me, it is a Holy duty.

    Period. Period. Period.

  59. Yunaleska

    Time for video games. I adore video games. Yet, with writing and other commitments, I now only get time to play them at the weekends.

    I keep telling myself once I eventually get an agent, I’ll have a little more time for gaming. Please don’t spoil my delusion. I miss spending entire days leveling up characters on rpgs.

  60. Vancouver Dame

    I have tried to rearrange priorities so that writing is in the forefront, rather than giving up anything major. My social activities have probably suffered from my being stingy with my writing time.

    If my time becomes crunched, I’m more likely to give up sleep or postpone housework so I can write.

    I currently am lucky to have the opportunity and the creative ideas to focus on writing, and that’s what I’m doing.

  61. Anonymous

    I don’t have the luxury of writing full-time (or working part-time) so I’ve given up the simple life of one career, in favor of two simultaneous careers: the one that feeds the soul, and the one that puts food on the table. I guess that means I’ve given up leisure.

  62. Scott

    I’m struggling with this one, Nathan. For the moment, I’ve given up writing anything other than an occasional blog. For me at least, and perhaps because I’m such a fiction writing newbie, I need substantial blocks of time to write anything semi-coherent.

    I know for some writers, their projects are always playing in the back of their heads, plotting out what happens next to their MC, etc… I don’t have that ability just yet. When I’m not actually sitting in front of a computer working on the story, I’m not thinking about it because I’ve got a full-time job, three kids, a house, etc… soaking up my brain cells.

    I’m not giving up, though. I’m going to find the right balance if it freakin KILLS ME!!

  63. Julie Weathers

    Bane, MJ, Conni, Anon, and anyone else I may have missed.


    Divorce has taken 2 years to settle, but it will be done in two weeks from today. Oddly enough, I still care, but I just finally realized I couldn’t work hard enough to earn writing time.

    It’s really quite remarkable to just sit down and write, without feeling guilt. Well, aside from the cluttered apartment.

    I am sending resumes out this week for jobs in Afghanistan, so, with any luck, one of those will come through. Lawyer wanted me to wait on that until this was settled.

    It’s all just a journey

  64. Justus M. Bowman

    Work time, studying time, family time, friend time, reading for fun (mostly), and the list could go on for a while.

  65. Christina

    Watching TV for the most part. I still watch one show on a weekly basis but besides that I don’t bother. But there is really nothing but crap on tv now anyway, so I don’t miss it. My attention is much better focused on my writing that way I don’t get bored. 😀

  66. Brigita

    I wish I could only give up housework but since there’s no one else to do it for me – I’ve mostly given up sleep.

  67. Anonymous

    writer.html(trying that hyperlink thing again)

  68. Ann Victor

    A lucrative career in finance, friends and free time.

    But I’m happier now than at any other time of my life, so I’ve gained a lot more then I’ve sacrificed.

  69. Anonymous

    tv helps me think about characters, plot, development, story.

    I love tv and movies.

    But I am also selective.

  70. csmith

    This made me think yesterday, and even more with this followup post today.

    I heave learnt through bitter f***ing experience that there are certain things I cannot give up. Primarily among these are exercise, relaxation, time spent with my partner, and time spent outdoors. Relaxation for me is paramount, at 23 they had me having CAT scans for a brain tumour because of the effects that stress due to writing/working/studying and nothing else were having on me.

    So what have I given up to write. Spontaneity. My life is so tightly scheduled to fit in everything: get up, do emails, swim, breakfast, work, write in lunchbreak, work some more, come home, cook and have dinner with partner (outside if possible), watch 30mins TV, write for 2 hours, sleep. Any slight deviation from this routine drives me mad because I feel I’m not fulfilling one of my primary objectives, as everything on that list is important.

    Now you all know me for the ridiculously structured person that I am. I’ll go hide under a rock.

  71. Mira

    Mark –


  72. Felicity

    Um . . . nothing, really. Which is probably why I haven’t pursued a specific project very passionately or met with any smashing success. This fact that my priorities have to change if I want to see career movement has already been troubling my waters, so thanks for bringing it up – twerp.

  73. Benjamin Pistorius

    Luckily, I am still a bachelor, and a college student. So far, I have not had to give up much. Simple stuff like a clean room, socialization—to a point—watching TV, and sleep—which I give up already, just being a student.

  74. Mira

    Let me try that again. That was a bit too personal….

    I’ve mostly sacrificed time.

    And a feeling of security. Going after dreams, and hoping that you really have something to say that people will want to hear is scary.

  75. Fiona Young-Brown

    I’ve given up my plans for a well-paid corporate job with career prospects, benefits, a fancy office, power suits, travel, and a financially comfortable retirement.

    I’ve given up the idea of that corporate job financing a large fancy house.

    I’ve given up the respect of some people who think that I’m a flake for leaving my PhD in the dust to be “creative”.

    On the other hand, I’ve gained the freedom to do something I love and that constantly piques my interest.

    I’ve gained the admiration of some friends who think I live a dream life because I am not tied to the fancy office and power suits.

    And I’ve gained the self-assurance to know that those people who think I’m a flake aren’t worth bothering with.

  76. Bane of Anubis

    Echoing some of what Merry said, I wholeheartedly believe no profession sacrifices as much, time-wise, as the medical profession. Admittedly, the end result is usually more lucrative than other professions, but at least w/ writing, there is usually significantly more personal satisfaction w/ these sacrifices in the here and now.

  77. bryngreenwood

    A better-paying job, casual friendships, television, and whatever remained of my ability to have a normal conversation.

  78. Madison

    Social time with friends and family. Some of that I really don’t mind though. It will all be worth it in the end! 🙂

  79. Mira

    People are talking alot about what we give up externally.

    What about internally?

    What’s the quote?

    There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

  80. A.L. Davroe

    The usual…sleep, friend time, family time, a good paycheck. I’m lucky because my husband is in grad school and all I have to do is convince him he has work to do and he’s out of my hair. That also puts kids on the back burner for a couple years.

    I changed jobs and took a big pay cut so that I could write. I admittedly still write while I’m at work…I’m terrified I’m going to get fired for doing it; but when you have to write, you have to write.

    I’ve definitely gained some weight as well. I’m a snacking typist, so an entire day in front of a half written manuscript leaves my cupboards bare. I have days when I feel like I’ve lost my self esteem as well…like when one of my readers bashes my writing in a critique.

    I always try and remind myself that in the end I’m doing something that makes me infinitely happier than anything else I could be doing. You may be writing for others, but in the end, you are writing for you. You have to keep plugging along, cutting out distractions, and convincing yourself you’re working on a MASTERPIECE. It’s a huge accomplishment when you actually do get your novel finished. You deserve a pat on the back and an automatic get-out-of-jail-free card for all the stuff you neglected while writing. After that, you deserve a second pat on the back for going back, re-editing, and then trying to publish.

  81. Jade

    What a brilliant topic for You Tell Me!

    I’ve given up competing in equestrian sport. I still have my horses and ride them, but spending all day at a show was suddenly an unforgivable, guilt-inducing waste of time rather than a fun day out.

    I gave up exercise while I was completing my first novel. That was a bad idea and I vowed never to sacrifice that part of my life again. So far, so good!

    Also while completing my first novel, I gave up not drinking my first glass of wine at 4 p.m.

    G’aaah! I’m amazed it ever got finished, still less published!

  82. Dara

    Finding a book that captivates me. I used to read dozens of books a year; now I’m hard pressed to finish maybe half a dozen, simply because I lose interest in the story and the characters, or there are issues in the story that prevent me from finishing it.

    I’ve found that I’ve been reading less and less critically ever since college, when as an English major, we analyzed everything to death. Now that I’m part of a critique group, I’ve been using the same critical eye when reading a book and it’s hard for me to turn it off.

    Oh and housework; the piles of laundry and the fact that hubby and I eat pre-made frozen dinners most of the time says a lot 😛 But I have a feeling I wouldn’t be doing much of that even if I wasn’t writing and researching.

  83. Maidenfine

    It used to be housework, when I was a housewife. But these dyas, it’s mostly sleep. When I have a chance to get started on something in the evening, my husband has to remind me that I have work in the morning, or I’ll write all night. Of course, finding time to get started is the hard part these days. Between work and my daughter (who I refuse to give up for writing) and my husband dragging me out to do things like grocery shopping (we need food?), it’s hard to find that crucial five minutes of mental quiet so I can shift gears to actually write.

    When work is slow, I give up internet surfing time to write. No such luxury during storm season, unfortunately.

  84. Conni

    CSmith, you sound like me 😉 I’m also big on time management and organization. Spontaneity gives me the hives.

  85. Mister Fweem

    I’ll be honest and say . . . nothing. Writing is just part of what I do. Of course I’m not in a rush. I want the time to make what I write work for me. I have little ideas that come all the time, in between stuff, on top of stuff and despite stuff. And reading for pleasure? Come on. I do more of it. Never trust a writer who doesn’t read, that’s my motto.

  86. Jarucia

    Often times the sense of efficacy and additive value as a human.

    It’s MUCH more difficult to gauge the value of what I’m trying to accomplish as writer as compared to my years working with children and volunteering.

    Actually, volunteering keeps me balanced still.

    Writing feels REALLY selfish at times.

  87. India Carolina

    My “cover” persona as conservative professional. Whew, glad to be rid of that one!

  88. Vegas Linda Lou

    I haven’t really given up anything, but there are three things that I’ve let slip: 1) housework (whatever), 2) I don’t exercise nearly as much as I used to, and 3) I’m hardly ever caught up on Guiding Light

  89. Bane of Anubis


    Answering queries at all hours of the day and week, reading, partials/fulls, maintaining this blog, etc… what do you give up?

  90. J.

    exercise…I keep getting fatter

  91. Lisa Mantchev

    I was–and continue to be–a full time mom, so every minute I spend writing, revising, and networking is time away from my daughter.

    The guilt I feel over this some nights is terrible, and it’s forced me to take time management to a ninja-level.

  92. Milo

    I agree with Anonymous (@ 9:33 AM) that a full, balanced life can contribute to our work, and that writing every day, regardless of how much ends up on the page, is the way to go. It’s worked for me, anyway. But as for sacrifices: my surfboard and my mountain bike are looking pretty lonely these days . . .

  93. Karen

    TV. I used to watch a LOT of TV, but now, I only make time for the basic staples like LOST. I get so much more writing accomplished when I have the tube turned off.

  94. Sharen

    After many years of putting my writing on hold, I gave up the conviction that other people’s needs were more important than my own. I gave up feeling guilty about being selfish and, with it, the frustration that came with not spending my days working towards my personal dream. Once I gave all this up, I finally got what I wanted – a writer’s life and, eventually, a completed manuscript.

  95. Just Write

    I also chose not to have children because of the writing– a choice many women writers probably make.

    And I gave up my job. And housework.

    Hm. Pretty crazy, huh?

  96. Marie Force

    1. Housework (no great loss)
    2. Time with kids (a loss but coincided with the age when I’m not their first choice of companion anymore)
    3. Time with spouse (a loss but he is super supportive)
    4. Time with friends (a loss but I’ve become much less social in my old age)
    5. Alcohol (I quit having even an occasional beer because it makes me too tired to write after said social event that I didn’t have time for in the first place)

    Being published?

  97. Marla Taviano

    Sleep. TV. Housework. Health insurance. New stuff.

    It’s been worth every bit of it.

  98. Hilary

    A day job I like/have invested myself in.

  99. larrymuse

    Hi Nathan;
    I have not seen the movie and I’m not sure that I will. I usually watch a movie a week but the Wrestler in not high on my list.
    As far a living a normal life and pursuing a writing career I don’t know that they are compatible. Have I given up things in my life to write? Honestly I have never given it much thought. I don’t think of writing as something I have to do. It is just something that I can’t stop doing.
    I write stories hoping that they will be read and enjoyed. That is my entire goal. So I write and send out short stories and novels. They come back with notes; sorry this is not for us at this time. Thank you for letting us read your work.
    I sit down and read the stories and think to my self; self this is good stuff, send it some place else, and I do so. It is returned with more notes.
    I have done other things such as making and selling jewelry in the Boulder Mall. Not very satisfying. The same for leather goods. The most fun has come from making my own whiskey. Making whiskey in not legal but Oh Well. Bootlegging has been an old family pass time.
    Every time I think that I will give up, and move on, I start writing another story. By the way… Bourbon is the official whiskey of the United States but Rye was the first whiskey made in our country. Live well and drink Rye. Larry Muse.

  100. Missi

    $97,000 a year.

  101. Adrienna

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months but this is my first comment because… oh it hits me right in the gut.
    I quit my day job. It was to be a 3 months writing adventure just something special for me that I saved up for and I even planned. My first day as a writer, September 15th, the day the stock market crashed. Now 9th months later, no umemployment, no health care, no savings, no money and of course no job and I live in 12.1% unemployment Oregon. I gave up everything. Wasn’t my intention but the world had other plans. See, just hits me in my empty gut. But I’m on the fourth draft of my book so I’m accomplishing my goal. I’m getting what I want just not the way I really wanted, huh… careful what you wish for?

    Thank you for all the great posts.

  102. PurpleClover

    In all honesty I feel I have it easy though. I don’t have a full time job. My only part time job is cleaning an office (Go Janitors!) for a few hours on the weekend to pay a car payment.

    My nursing classes/clinicals are only 2-3 days a week. Not hard to schedule around. Plus I use my mini-vacations at school for writing blocks. So please don’t take mine as a complaint.

  103. PurpleClover

    Missy –

    I hear that! That’s what I gave up for kids. 🙂

  104. Anonymous

    Sleep (some short term memory loss as a result) and house cleaning. Although I am great at surface cleaning so if you don’t look closely and I keep the lights low it all looks great. I think its working out.

  105. Annalee

    Not a whole lot, really. I write because I enjoy it.

    I mean, I suppose I could be using that time to do something else, but I don’t really consider that a sacrifice. I’ve found that when I want to make time for a hobby, I make time for it.

  106. Tanya Egan Gibson

    Any semblance of a clean house. Tons of sleep. Most of my sanity. 🙂

  107. Liana Brooks

    Nothing is my first answer, but I know it isn’t true.

    I’m not working on my masters degree, partially due to writing, but mostly due to moving away from the coast.

    I don’t watch TV anymore. I didn’t watch it much before, now we don’t even have channels, just DVD and VHS.

    I don’t sew as much. My family knows the book isn’t behaving when I start quilting.

    Everything else I manage to juggle in there somehow.

  108. Marybeth

    Oh where to start! From housework to having a life at times. I’ve also given up a bit of sanity…BUT I’ve gained confidence and a bit of happiness to finally be doing something I enjoy and something I believe it.

    Although I have sometimes neglected my friends and family to finish up the last few paragraphs of that last chapter, I have gained new relationships with other fellow writers and strengthened my relationship with my husband, who has on numerous accounts commented on how he has never seen me so “passionate” about anything.

    Point being made, although we give up many things to be a writer, I think we gain just as much!

  109. Kelly

    I’d say the biggest thing I’ve given up (well, cut down on) is alone time with the hubby (sorry, babe!)…I write in the evening when the kids are in bed so that leaves less time playing cards or watching a movie together. Which brings another thing, movies. I just don’t have time for them anymore! That’s two solid hours! And of course there’s housework…

  110. creativity revival

    2 votes for the health insurance. That and my dignity. (for all those in my life who doubt me).

  111. Julia from Atlanta

    Sharen – Ditto for me.
    I raised 4 kids. After the first two left, a major expanse of time seemed to open up. And I started giving up what you said: putting everyone else’s needs first, and feeling guilty if I didn’t.
    I found that they’re happier if they meet their own needs anyway – that responsibility thing. And I am way less stressed.

    I found I could create a block of time daily, when I can be home alone, to pursue my dream. Now I have a complete manuscript and I write every day. My husband of 27 years is 100% supportive, and my youngest 2 kids have also created time in their lives to write.

  112. cindie geddes

    I’ve given up the usual: time in front of the TV, sick days, vacation days, stability, sunshine.

    But I’ve also given up a rampaging ego, a need for instant gratification, a fear of not knowing when my next paycheck would come in, the need to justify my failures, and a whole lot of fear.

  113. M. K. Clarke

    Sleep. Sex. Sanity. Posting much on my workout boards. My Coaching business. This season’s “24” over “Two and a Half Men” (think I’m going to pass on the rest of this season’s “Rescue Me”, though, since he’s trying too damn hard for the sleep sacrifice to make it worth a lost hour a week.)


  114. Samantha Tonge

    Slowly but surely i spend less time with real-life friends and more time with virtual writing ones.

    Not sure it’s healthy but i’m all for networking until i get that deal.

  115. Anonymous

    Vacations. Haven’t had a real vacation in years.

  116. Anna

    what if it’s not a matter of giving up some THING, but accepting something ELSE, on faith…

  117. Christina


  118. ella144

    My nightly reading time

    The ability to read a book as a reader and not a writer (movies and TV shows also)


    I found my passion

    Joy from putting pen to paper and creating something

    Friends and acquaintances with others in writing community

    Knowledge and understanding of a fascinating industry

    A lifelong dream

  119. Samantha Tonge

    Oh yeah, i gave up a low cholesterol level as well:) Too many desktop Oreos.

  120. csmith

    @ Conni

    Ah, thank goodness. I like feeling that my questionable sanity is not completely unique to me.

    Plus, like this, all the ticky boxes get ticked!

  121. Anonymous

    My writing dream costs:
    1. 20 years of education
    2. A lifetime of living
    3. A copse of trees ground
    into paper
    4. Enough ink to fill a
    motel swimming pool
    5. Three computers crashed from
    an implosion of words
    6. A literary Obsessive
    Compulsive Disposition
    (OCD) to find audiences for
    my work
    7. A thin hide.

    Mary Jo

  122. Travis Erwin

    the first thing that came to mind was fishing. I sued to fish every evening and nearly every weekend. Notw I only make it out on the water 8 or 9 times a year.

    But my wife might tell you I gave up yard work.

  123. TecZ aka Dalton C Teczon - Writer

    I gave up my health, not by choice. And a nice income, again, not by choice, laid off. But now I have time to write. Now I’m poor but, happily writing, learning what to do with it, and making new and amazing talented online friends.

  124. Welshcake

    Maybe I’m not dedicated enough, but I haven’t given up anything. Apart from a day a week at work to allow extra time to write, so I suppose I’ve given up some income.

    But apart from that, I fit my writing around my life. Most of the time, anyway.

  125. wonderer

    Another vote for housework and TV.

    Also a certain amount of peace of mind, and about half the trips I would have taken home to see my family (but I’ve replaced those with writing retreats at a cottage, and I know I need nature for sanity, so I’m not too sorry).

    As someone said upthread, though, I suspect I haven’t given up enough yet. I’m simply not spending enough time writing to make that dream happen.

  126. Mira

    Adrienna – that’s hard. I feel for you – but do hang in there! Good luck!

    Okay, in my mission to talk about the internal sacrifices, what about this quote:

    “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

    ~Gene Fowler

  127. Betsy Ashton

    I gave up a six-figure job, business suits and panty hose for working three days a week for pay and four days a week to write. I haven’t looked back in three years.

  128. Amy Platon

    Ummm, nothing really comes to mind except: money, housework, sleep, good posture, a little self esteem, solid goals, memory from my hard drive, my positioning in society. Other than that everything is peachy! *smile*

  129. Marilyn Peake

    I’ve sacrificed time and money, suffered severe migraine headaches related to eyestrain, and given up lots of free time to write. Still, I’ve tried to keep my life mostly in balance. Picking myself up after every disappointment is difficult, but I eventually find a way to get excited about the next writing project.

    Got a chuckle out of those who said they gave up housework. Been there. Cut way back on housework and laundry while working on manuscripts. Discovered that dust falls like pixie dust and laundry piles grow into mountains when a writer turns their full attention to writing.

  130. scott g.f. bailey

    Sleep. TV was easy to give up. Lately I’ve given up playing music, because there’s just not enough time, but that’s just a temporary interruption.

  131. Jen P

    Time to just be, and not do.
    2 hours sleep a night, 4 nights a week. But I’ve gained an awful lot more than I have lost.

  132. Melissa

    Wow, I’m feeling very guilty. All I gave up was laziness and blurriness. Writing is the best thing I’ve ever done.

  133. T. Anne

    Time. Large blocks of it. Housework has become the low man on the totem pole.

  134. Daniel Gardina

    Sleep, television, money, a day job where I can advance. But in the end it’s worth it. My real job is writing.

  135. RightGirl

    Household harmony. I live in a hell of anger and resentment while I get my business off the ground. That’s the choice I made.

  136. Thomas Burchfield

    Economic stability and security; a public image of myself as “normal.”

  137. Kristi

    I would say television except that I never watched it even before I began writing (I used to read at night after the kids went to bed – now I read and write).

    I would say housework except that I would be lying, because I use any excuse not to do dishes so my chore avoidance is not specific to writing.

    So, nothing yet. Ask me again when I’m a bestseller and I may have a different response. What has Stephen King said about this?

  138. Craven

    I write during lunch hours, so I’ve given up any kind of social life at work. I try not to let it follow me home, but it does, though I’ve committed to heeding the calls of my wife and children more than those of the blank page.

  139. Gwen

    My first instinct was to say “a Ph.D.” because I’m planning on leaving my program after I receive my M.S. in order to spend time working and writing, but then I realized that I’m not really giving up the Ph.D. for writing–I’m choosing a different path for my life. Life is all about choosing this over that. A Ph.D. in research psychology isn’t going to teach me anything the M.S. won’t and the title isn’t important for publishing (it’s how you WRITE that matters). Maybe some people would see that as giving something up, but I see it as following a dream I’ve had since I was 14. I think I can handle giving up a little stability and earning potential. Nothing is every gained without sacrifice.

  140. Janet

    I have given up the right to be very choosy about what I read. I have to know what’s out there, and a lot of it I wouldn’t have read on my own. So reading is less fun than it used to be, because it is now a professional obligation.

    And I will be giving up leisurely web-surfing. *sigh* Focus, focus, focus!

  141. Anonymous

    I don’t think of it as having “given up” anything. I do it because I like to do it. Sure, I guess I could be doing something else with all that time (I figure, for example, that if I paid myself minimum wage for each hour I’ve spent writing, that, even after taxes, I’d have a lot more than I’ve received so far from my advance, but still…you only get one life, right? You should do what you feel is constructive with it.) Besides, I already have a fulltime dayjob–so, I’d rather have the book I’ve written (with the contact) than having had a *second) job with all that time instead, the cash from which I would probably blow anyway on exotic vacations and stuff that would, wel..make me want to write about it.

  142. Joann Mannix

    The clean house became more of a soul-killing chore than a source of pride. It was the first thing to go.

    My insane work-out schedule where I was at the gym by 5:00 AM every morning was the next casualty. Now, I’m a little softer, but a lot more creative with the proper amount of sleep.

    Regular cooking went next, along with the pronouncement that I would no longer be the slave of the house. What a wonderful gift I gave to my kids-forced independence. Truly, a good thing.
    Now, I dictate that the laundry room door MUST stay shut at all times, so visitors aren’t privy to the fact that my laundry piles are as towering as my dreams. The title of my blog, laundryhurtsmyfeelings, was inspired by those towers I am unable to conquer.

    My involvement in the community and my kids’ schools has also sadly been put on the back burner.

    But, most importantly, I gave up the fear and stepped off.

    No matter what happens, it has all been worth it.

  143. Ulysses

    Tough question. If you’ve never had X, how do you know you’ve given it up?

    I believe all I’ve given up is time. Time that I could have spent with family or friends. Time that I could have spent sailing or gardening or playing video games or writing computer programs (yep… geek is as geek does), or watching television. Time that I could have used to learn a new skill.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’ve done all those things. I just haven’t had as much time to do them as I would have if I hadn’t set aside the time to write.

    Things I’d like to do if I gave up writing:
    – Plot world conquest. I just don’t think enough people are doing that anymore.
    – Become involved with a supermodel. If Mel Gibson can run around with a Russian girlfriend, why can’t I?
    – Shave a yak. Just what the heck to those things look like under all that hair, anyway?
    – Sabotage a political campaign. It looks like fun.
    – Invent the Next Big Thing. How hard can it be?
    – Get rich by spamming Nigeria.
    – Achieve spiritual enlightenment. I figure I can do it in a week. I bet the Dalai Lama makes it look more difficult than it is.
    – Learn patience. That shouldn’t take too long.
    – Discredit my enemies. I don’t actually have any, but once I started on this list, I don’t think it’d take a week before I had hundreds.

  144. Mira

    Oh, I am going to have to give up something.

    This is hard for me to say, but, sadly, I’m probably going to have to give up my blog.

    With working full-time, and now school full-time, something has to give. It’s sad….

    Is anyone interested in taking over Come In Character? I’d be happy to pass it into some capable hands…..

  145. Anonymous

    “…leaving my PhD in the dust to be “creative”.

    I’d say it’s a mistake not to finish the PhD, if you’re at least 2 years into it. It will give credibility to your writing, help you sell more books. (think of being introduced on the interviews as “Dr., author of…”

    Plus, the experience of going through with it will give you the fortitude to complete an arduous project, something you will need in order to sell a book. Then there is the expeirence itself, the people you’ll meet, your thesis defense–all of this is great fodder for fiture stories which you are forsaking because you think you’ve got enough in your head already.

    Think again. think again.

  146. Jason Crawford

    I really don’t feel like I’ve given up anything because (OK I know this is cheesy, but here goes) I REALLY love writing.

    I don’t watch much TV because I’m writing, but I’d rather be writing anyhow so it’s not like I’ve given anything up.

    There are other things I like that I don’t get to do much of, but none of them compare to my desire to write. But if I didn’t write everyday I’d probably be one heck of a guitar/piano player. I guess that’s one sacrifice.

  147. Leni Qinan


    Coffee breaks at work (I use them for writing sometimes)
    Housework (I only do the basics)

    but it’s rewarding, even if you’re unpublished!

  148. AmyB

    I gave up World of Warcraft. Believe me, it wasn’t a big loss.

  149. Weronika

    How about (more) perfect grades? The party-it-up type social life? Writing has enveloped everything, but I have no regrets.

  150. Anonymous

    I thought my husband had given up his sleep, and time with me, for his writing, but it turned out he was also having an affair.

    So now I have huge issues with my own writing.

    Never give up time with your family.

  151. Jason Crawford

    would like to add…I think the way to avoid becoming like the dude in the movie you mentioned, Nathan, is to know what things in life you are not willing to sacrifice for writing, and then building a wall around them. OK so this wall needs to have a door, but the door should remained locked most of the time.

    I will not sacrifice my marriage or my daughters for writing. Other than that I’d pretty much give up anything else.

  152. darkened_jade

    I honestly don’t see it as “giving up” something in order to write. I want to write and so I’m doing what I want to do. If I miss out on socialising, or television or any of the other so called amazing things out there, then I chose to do so.
    I will point out that the one thing I will not give up is my day job. If I did that I would spend twenty four hours glued to the computer, never eat healthy again, and I wouldn’t have any inspiration to draw on to write about. I like the balance I have between working, writing and socialising. If I were to actually get published, then I might have to tweak that balance more in favour of writing, but I’ll play it by ear.

  153. Mira

    I feel like the most horrible, irresponsible person in existence giving up CIC.

    I really hope someone takes it over. There’s such a wonderful community building there.

  154. kristin-briana

    Mostly pride. And ridiculously high expectations. I had to look at my work more objectively and realize that it was not great – it wasn’t even necessarily GOOD – and I can always make it better.

  155. Marilyn Peake

    Mira said:
    “I feel like the most horrible, irresponsible person in existence giving up CIC.

    “I really hope someone takes it over. There’s such a wonderful community building there.”
    Don’t feel badly, Mira. Grad school should definitely take your full attention. Have you posted an announcement on the CIC blog, asking for someone to take over? Wish I could do it, but I’m swamped.

  156. Andrea

    Hahaha! Good question. I had to give up wearing my wedding band! Typing with it on gave me a cyst on my ring finger, and now I can’t wear it.
    Anyone out there gotten a tat on their finger? Seriously!! 😉

    Other than that, I have had to learn to schedule myself so that my family doesn’t get lost.

    I once listened to a music writer tell how the royalties for his most popular songs went to paying for his divorces. A new x per song!
    That is a price I’m not willing to pay!

  157. Marilyn Peake

    Andrea said:
    “Anyone out there gotten a tat on their finger? Seriously!! ;)”

    I get what feels like a Vulcan neck pinch after typing for hours. Ouch.

  158. Lupina

    Gave up: teaching job with benefits and such, having a house clean enough that I could happily allow neighbors inside any time, a well-tended flower garden, artwork, delusions of grandeur, the ability to kid myself, fancy clothing I didn’t need, baking,various dumb hobbies and most TV.
    Won’t give up: Time with family and close friends, naps, sleep, exercise, making nutritious food, the dog. Tried all of that and got cancer, which could have been a real writing career buster. Nothing is worth that!

  159. Suzanne Casamento

    Stability. Freelance writing doesn’t exactly bring in the big bucks. But it’s worth it. ; )

  160. Other Lisa

    A career. I always felt like I had “a day job,” even when I had a pretty decent gig that paid well.

    When I was working full-time and writing, sleep. Balance, a lot of the time. I pushed really hard on the last book, to the point where I’d joke it was written in dog years. I could tell my regimen wasn’t good for my health.

    At least one relationship. It wasn’t “the writing or me,” but the fact that he so did not get how seriously I took it.

    Now, maybe my little house in a wonderful neighborhood. I no longer have the lucrative day job, and I’m just not willing to go back to that kind of life. That’s about far more than just the writing – it’s about needing to lead a life that has both adventure and as Nathan put it, “brain-breathing time.” And time for very long walks.

    I used to be able to do all of it, the job, the writing, the exercise, even a modicum of social life, but I can’t any more. After a while, not having that brain-breathing time is almost worse than not having enough sleep.

    Word verification: dowoop!

    Now that’s a nice, upbeat word. I’m going with it.

  161. Icy Roses

    Wow, I feel pretty lucky. I haven’t given up anything. You have a lot of free time your freshman year in college…

    Next year though, I feel less optimistic about time management.

  162. Marilyn Peake


    Have you considered asking the flip side of today’s question – What positive things have we gained from writing? Answers might be illuminating, and lead to another positivity day. 🙂

  163. Anonymous

    Any semblance of a personal life. Can’t manage a “day job” and write and have any time left over for anything other than grabbing a few hours of sleep (and I don’t even get 8 of those).


  164. SB

    I’ve given up people looking at me like a normal, sane human being when I tell them what I’ve been up to.

    Also, I’ve given up being a workaholic in my day job. Although I have a pretty good, low-profile job, I could have a wonderful, yet stressful, high-profile job in the same line of work that would have given me absolutely no time to write.

  165. Matilda McCloud

    I guess I’ve had to sacrifice my façade of being a Writer with a capital W. It was one thing to tell people I was writing a novel, quite another to give a copy of the ms to friends and family to read and critique. Once I did that, I couldn’t pretend I was Gabriel Garcia Marquez anymore (ouch…). But I have to say the ms is now much, much better.

    I agree with darkened Jade. I don’t want to give up my day job. I still do all the things I did when I wasn’t writing (playing the piano, singing in a choir, etc). Mira, maybe you should continue writing your blog. I love writing a blog and find it very satisfying to work on when the other writing stuff isn’t going well.

  166. MaLanie

    I try to spend an hour in the morning learning grammar and the craft,an hour during my daughter’s nap time reading a novel and after everyone is in bed I work on my book.

    I am sacraficing time, a dust free house and sleep! But it really doesn’t feel like a sacrafice as I LOVE to learn and apply it! I believe one day it will pay off.

  167. Anonymous

    Because of writing deadlines, I didn’t get to see my daughter ride a camel. And I didn’t get to see my son, the first time he was on a pony. Of course my husband didn’t have a camera with him on either occasion.

    I gave up other stuff too, like a career in law, which might have actually helped pay back my law school loans. Lots of little things, mostly materialistic, though. But the camel and the pony, those were the hardest.

  168. pjd


    pretty much in that order

  169. Mira


    Yes, I just did – ask for someone.

    Matilda – it’s a different type of blog. It’s more like a forum. There’s alot of hidden work.

    I feel sad about it.

  170. Dana

    Wow… that’s a question… holy cow!
    I gave up my job, a clean house, most of my personal life, and a fair amount of sanity. Also some of my health… I’m not vitamin D deficient- seriously. 🙂
    Luckily, I have an uber-supportive husband, so I haven’t had to give up too much as far as lifestyle goes. Though, I did have to give up my total fear of talking to people- swallowed my stomach and went to talk to a lot of people at the conference this last weekend, even Nathan. That might have been the most difficult. 🙂

  171. Polenth

    I was going to say that my life isn’t that busy, so making time for writing doesn’t mean huge sacrifices. But when I think about it, I have time because I keep my living costs down, so I don’t need a fulltime job. I don’t tend to think about the sacrifices involved in keeping costs down, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

    I wouldn’t sacrifice my health and happiness. I take time to exercise and cook proper meals. My mind works best when I’m healthy. As far as being happy goes, if I can’t be happy now, it’s unlikely I’d be happy in the future either. Unhappy people tend to stay unhappy, no matter how many of their dreams they achieve.

  172. MaLanie

    I forgot to mention pride; I am taking on my weakest area and putting it out there for people to judge. Talk about scary!

  173. Anonymous


    Is that a picture of you, instead of desert?


  174. Marilyn Peake

    Julie Weathers,

    Your personal story is extremely moving! I wish you great success with your novel, Paladin.

  175. Marilyn Peake

    MaLanie said:
    “I forgot to mention pride; I am taking on my weakest area and putting it out there for people to judge. Talk about scary!”

    Pride is so overrated. I feel like I blush so much promoting my work online, I no longer need makeup. 🙂

  176. Anonymous

    The only thing I’ve given up is the crap that doesn’t matter anyway (i.e. TV and a spotless house). I’ve kept the hubby and the munchkins. 🙂

  177. Mira


    No, I just really like that picture and the feeling it conveys.

    In terms of what I really look like, I’d take a picture, but it’s hard to fit all three heads in one frame. Also, the pointy hump on my back always swells in the Spring, so I’d rather wait until Winter. Besides, it’s much easier to hide my bald head under a winter hat. I’m alittle embarrassed about that bald head. Even if the other two heads have hair.

    Sort of.

    See? I told you I looked like Brittany Spears but prettier.

    It looks like CIC may become a group project. One person takes a day. I would be so happy if that happens!

  178. Anonymous

    I’m the opposite, though finally coming around. I gave up my dream of writing for three years to work on my husband’s dream – a complete renovation and addition for our home. Now that it’s nearly done, I’ve announced that I will be working on my own dream full time from now on.

  179. Bethanne

    LOL Dayna. Very funny. And TRUE! http://www.cdyates.com says it right, REAL WRITERS DON’T VACUUM!

    Mostly, though, I read less. From at least three books a week to at the most three books a month. 🙁 VERY SAD!!!!!

  180. Eva Ulian

    I can’t think for the life of me of ever having given up anything for my writing dream. I know I have got rid of doing everything I didn’t like doing so as to spend the rest of my life, what little is left of it, to just write. That’s why I consider myself lucky, because that’s precisely what I am doing.

  181. Nicole R Murphy

    Money. Early last year, I left a full-time job and was faced with whether to keep going at a full-time job (which was making it hard to write), or part-time which meant less money but more writing time. With Hubby’s support, chose the later and haven’t looked back. Am very happy, have two part-time jobs in my mind (but the writing one isn’t paying – yet).

  182. Anonymous

    As a sixteen year old, I’ve given up lots of social time when I could be out with my friends! My family teases me because I spend so much time in front of the computer typing away!

  183. Anahita

    Sometimes I get so excited about a writing project that it starts to affect my time with my husband and kids. But that also causes unhappiness because I become impatient and anxious. So I quickly figure out that something is wrong and adjust back. I keep myself in check and writing remains blissful.

  184. Betty Atkins Dominguez

    Just about anything that gets in the way, except children and g-children.

    BTW, is the TO ALL ans. button on this blog’s e-mail supposed to be your work e-mail or to the blog itself?

  185. Dawn Maria

    I think I was giving up on myself before I made the commitment to take my writing seriously.

    Now that I am taking it seriously, I’ve given up my stay-at-home mom status to work for our school district. The money helps the household and finances my residency, conferences and other expenses. I feel strongly that because this is my dream, I should do all the work toward it, though without my husband and sons’ support (which they give generously) it would be even tougher than it is.

  186. R.J. Self

    The weird thing is that I don’t feel like I have given up anything. I have gained time with my family, I can do housework whenever I want (Laundry at 2 am is fun), I can take my kids to the park while sit on a nearby bench and write. It’s been a bit of a struggle on the income side, but I have 2 kids so it’s always a struggle.

  187. Anonymous

    My looks; I have no hairstyle, no fashion sense, no particular scent, no new anythings (except groceries), no secret admirers – only fans, who have no clue my pic on the cover has expired ten years ago.

  188. Anonymous

    Mostly just sleep, since I write late at night after sig. other is asleep, and do have a career dayjob to go to every weekday. Weekends I hang with family/friends and catchup on sleep. Weekdays–work, weeknights: write.

  189. Ben Dutton

    Money, mostly. I only go to my paying job two days a week (Sat & Sun, both nine hour shifts) and the rest of the week I write. The writing isn't paying very well yet but I hope it will one day. For it to do so I have to keep at it, keep submitting work, fighting for my first big break. Only I'm not in it for the money. I don't really care about the stuff. So long as I write, have a roof over my head, enough food for the day and books to read I'm happy. My father can't understand it. I have a Masters Degree, nearly done with a PhD, and all I want is a cabin in the woods and time to write.

    Other things I've given up: frienships, or rather cultivating friendships. I know people, and have time set aside for them, but other than a few hours a week I don't bother.

    Sex and a close second relationships. I've been single for five years now. Occassionally a woman will come into my orbit who wants a relationship with me and I usually end up pushing them away. They want to take me away from my writing and my writing is who I am.

    As I'm thinking about it I've given up quite a lot. My plan was to keep at it until I was 30 and if I hadn't published a novel by then I'd give up. I published the novel so the plan changes. Now it's get a good publishing deal my the time I'm 35. I'm so focussed on it and my writing I forsake almost everything else. I know it'll probably mean I'll end up lonely, but I need to write. It's my mania. Wow, that was a depressive ramble. So I guess I also gave up my mental wellbeing. Seriously, who'd choose to be a writer?

  190. AstonWest

    Anything resembling a life…

  191. Linda

    Sleep. Sparkling toilets. 3 squares a day. Optimal exercise.

    Priorities: 1/ Writing and family ALWAYS (I have 2 younguns and a hubbers); 2/ day job (which is rewarding). That’s it. Peace, Linda

  192. Catherine Astolfo

    I retired early from a very lucrative job; it hasn’t been easy financially, but I don’t regret the decision.

  193. Anonymous

    I’m relieved to find out I’m not the only slob typing away.

  194. Mara Wolfe

    I have given up watching tv and movies to write, which isn’t much of a sacrifice. However, when I first started seriously writing, without thinking about it, I gave up reading. It was just the natural thing to cut out since I was getting so much fiction thorugh writing. Well, out went tv and back in came reading when I realized it.

  195. Anonymous

    I gave up a better paying job with more responsibilities. It really over-utilized the uncreative side of my brain and I would come home drained (and would have more work to do from home). I needed that creative energy to write. So now I have less money to have fun,etc. but I believe in my story and my writing and hopefully it won’t be fruitless. And if I hear from my mother one more time about where did she go wrong in teaching her kids to keep a tidy house…

  196. Cass

    Nathan – It’s really amazing how some of your posts can bring in such a huge volume of responses.

    I’ve kept my job of 23 years to keep health care and that 2nd paycheck this two income family has become so accustomed to. Of course this means I’ve given up any notions of 12 hours days of writing (although I have gone into work extremely tired from some late night writing). I’ve come to the realization that my WIP will be done, when it’s done.

    Maybe I’ll give up the job when the time comes that I have deadlines and book signing’s and such…oh I can dream, right?

  197. Colorado Writer

    Attending SCBWI conferences in liu of family vacations…

  198. Lucinda

    “What have you given up for your writing dream?”By giving up, do you mean, “Sacrifice”?

    Sacrifice? Nothing.

    Writing takes the place of those mindless tasks once thought necessary and almost all idle entertainment.


  199. Penslinger

    I’ve given up nothing of substance.

  200. Writer from Hell

    Full time career, my financial independence; due to that some delayed imp personal decisions…. and some more.

  201. Pattie Garner

    T.V.–I’m always the one person in a room who has no clue when it comes to the popular shows: The Office, Biggest Loser, CSI, and the list goes on and on…

  202. Vic K

    I’m with Scott on this one. I’ve given up peace of mind – the kind of peace of mind that lets me sit and enjoy watching the fire or surfing the net…because I feel guilty, knowing I should be writing instead of relaxing. Or just about anything really… (except playing with the kids. I can always justify family time, horse time and hubbie time.)

    But the truth is I can be the Empress of Procrastination.

    Now what I need to give up is the internet…I need to give up Nathan. And Janet and Jessica and Colleen and Jennifer and every other great agent out there.

    Think I will? No, me neither. *sigh*

  203. John

    I have mainly given up weekends, vacation time and two to three nights per week to hone my craft.

  204. Writer from Hell

    And unlike many others, I never ‘dreamt’ of being a writer. I was frustrated with a lot of problems in my country and had strong opinions as I was quite an aware person even then. I thought I’ll just write a 40 page book in a month and publish it (Oh well..)

    Before I knew, it took a life of its own, I gave up more and more, went deep into research, writing.. and boom about 3 years down the line I’ve got the picture complete.

    This picture will reach the right minds I see it clearly not quite sure how.. but I’m trying to pick up the pieces of my career that I left behind (though it is not as meaningful anymore).

  205. StrugglingToMakeIt

    Actually, probably nothing that I shouldn’t have given up.

    I don’t watch nearly as much TV. I gave up Blockbuster online and joined a book rental service in its place. And I’m single so I don’t have a family to worry about. Oh, and I live in quite possibly the most boring town in America, so no distractions there. I guess I could study more than I do currently, but that probably wouldn’t have happened, writing or no writing.

  206. Liz

    I’ve given up the delusion that I didn’t need help writing a great book.

  207. Anonymous

    I tend not to think about what I’ve given up, which is fairly negligible, and to focus on what I’ve gained.

    I spent most of my life trying to deny that I was a writer, and as a result, I went nuts. Writing seriously has given me a sense of purpose, more emotional stability, and more happiness than any of the other dead-end career avenues I tried. It keeps me more entertained than television and gives me more satisfaction than being close to family members… all of whom make carnivorous plants seem cute and cuddly.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of the tortured artist, but the fact of the matter is, many people are saved, not destroyed, by art. It’s the “normal” things that really get them down. I’ll take crippling writer’s block over an office job or tea with my cantankerous grandmother any day!

  208. The Writers Canvas

    Probably sleep and housework. I’ve narrowed down TV to my favorite shows, and if I’m screaming to have something on the tube, I play something while typing on my Alphasmart Dana; two things accomplished at once.

    Writing *IS* the key thing. I do have a day job and family, but fortunately both allow me time to write, and I make good use of the time allowed.

    Great question and ponderings, Nathan!


  209. mulligangirl

    I’ve given up: 3 of 8 hours nightly sleep, television, road rage (traffic =time to craft scenes in my head), a low-cal diet (processed sugar helps me write better), inactive verbs, run on sentences (except this one, working overtime (anything over 40 hours is mine)…and a guilty habit – Nancy Drew computer games. What I haven’t given up is: reading great books, learning the industry, helping other writers, spending ‘focused’ time with my family. I’d say so far I’m coming out ahead.

  210. Writer from Hell

    Ben Dutton 4:15 pm. Sweet. Your depression is fetching on you. Sometimes pain is an important motivator.. yours or others’.

  211. Kristin Tubb

    I’ve given up my ability to pay the bills on time. Remember that recent blog entry about advances, and how they look after the writer has deducted writing expenses from them? My writing expenses would include late fees. Lotsa.

  212. Lucinda

    Jen C…said on yesterday’s blog, “It’s pretty easy to balance writing and life if you don’t really have much of a life!”

    I can relate. So, maybe I have sacrificed something after all, a life.

    Reading this blog causes sleep deprivation. Does that count? 🙂 I should have been in bed an hour ago. (okay, it is not just this blog. I was rewriting and reading Backspace, too)

  213. spyscribbler

    I’ve never been much for free time. Before I wrote, I practiced piano when I wasn’t teaching it. Now that I write, I write when I’m not teaching piano. Never had health insurance.

    I’m just more myself, now. If I didn’t write, I’d probably work out four hours a day and be obsessed with martial arts.

  214. BarbS.

    Cable television.

    And housework.

  215. Anonymous

    Sleep. I always wake up exhausted because I refuse to sleep more than a couple hours.

    Security. Instead of going after a job that would allow me to never stress over bills I am putting all of my effort into my project.

    Time. I used to spend it doing things with my husband, talking to friends, reading, sleeping, eating, ect. Now I am mostly found writing.

    Kids. I have always wanted to be a mother, but for now I really just need to focus on writing.

    There are many things I have put aside so I can write, but I have found it all to be worth it.

  216. Wanda B. Ontheshelves

    Q: “What have you given up for your writing dream?”

    A: Alignment.

    Meaning, being a writer has been a struggle – I have to agree with the person who said they never thought of it as a “dream.” It’s just my life. It feels so hard a lot of the time, painfully so. But – I think of the majority of people on this planet – that are living lives that are hard in ways I can’t even imagine, and will never experience, because of where I was born, or my “good genes,” education, skin color, etc. So I feel, maybe if I wasn’t a writer, I would be aligned more with notions of success, “the American dream,” the glories of capitalism, progress, science, technology – but I’m not – I guess I’m thinking how when you’re wealthy, you’re supposed to be into things that are “artisanal” – artisanal cheese – handmade/handwelded/handpainted products for the home – and aren’t those wonderful jobs, hand making, hand welding, hand painting – and best of all – small companies that employee only 10 people, making cheese the old-fashioned way! I love those giant wheels of cheese!

    But everyone else can have jobs centered on computers in offices (when they’re not busy being laid off from these techno-centered jobs), or work in fast food restaurants – or work in factories overseas making clothes, or maybe go the entrepreneurial route and start your own meth lab!

    And then you go and buy your overprocessed food and mass-produced items made overseas because the environmental laws are laxer and there’s no OSHA, no collective bargaining etc.

    So being a writer is like, damn it, we all want artisanal cheeses and beautiful handmade items! Maybe we’d like there to be millions and millions of good-paying jobs all over the world that are labor intensive and labors of love, so we can afford to (and see the value in) buying each other’s beautiful things! Hell, there’s enough for everybody and the polar bears too!

    Alignment. With the imaginary world in which everyone can afford the good life. Nobody going grocery shopping at the landfill. Etc.

  217. Laura D

    #1 sanity
    #2 lost my inhibitions (learned to dig deep honestly-even when I didn’t want to admit things to myself)
    #3 security-I write better when I’m vulnerable
    #4 time just living
    #5 friends (but maybe they weren’t friends to begin with)

  218. Susanne

    Sleep. The house thing? Who are we kidding? Any excuse to give that up! Relationships. Especially when I spend more time thinking about my characters than anything else. Television. Reading, sometimes. It’s hard for me to get into my own book and someone else’s at the same time. Oddly, I can read two books at once. And excellent blogs such as this one have taken some of that time I had been using to write. As soon as I win the lottery, no worries. Read half the day, write the other half!!!

  219. mcpolish

    I’m not afraid to admit it: Dusting. I’ve given up dusting. Actually, I’m kind of glad about it.

    And also, in a sense, pride. I’ve had to set it aside sometimes so that I can take the criticism, make my writing better, make my dream more of a reality.

    Oh, and getting my hair done professionally at the salon. Who knew Natural Instincts was just as good?!?

  220. Lynn F.C.

    At UCLA Extension Writer’s Program, I’ve
    given up tuition money at least $495 a class for 10 weeks and time on the freeway traveling on campus, or if in an online class similar tuition and time doing my writing…time to publish my 10 new pages a week…time to critique at least two others’ work a week…and becoming obsessed with my story and how my craft can improve to make it worthy for anyone else to read it. But, it’s all worth it…I’m putting in my 10,000 hours…per The Outliers premise…to be successful which is always in doubt. Being tired in my day job because I’m obsessed with writing this story that’s nagging me to death. I keep dreaming and I keep writing. What else can one do.

  221. Reba

    Marie Force @ 10:27: Exactly my list! Only I haven’t been published yet. Also, I would add sleep, as I still have a day job. Writing happens at night.

  222. Pete Miller

    Watching television. I was so far behind that I recently cleared about 10 episodes each of Lost, Battlestar Galactica, and Heroes. I’m just not interested and evening is the only time I have to write.

  223. evepaludan

    I haven’t given up anything. Being an author has added immeasurably to my personal and professional life. I also have a job as an editor. I feel like I have the best of both worlds because I have financial security as well as the freedom to create. I’m a very good time manager, so it is not that difficult to work both jobs.

  224. Jen C

    It’s taken me all day to reply to this post, because I knew it was bothering me but I couldn’t work out why. Now I believe I’ve worked it out.

    I haven’t given up anything for writing. By way of explanation, here’s a little snap shot of my week:

    1. my 9-5 (actually it’s 8:30 – 5:30, but who’s counting?)
    2. my second job, corporate writing, editing, research and design.
    3. study for my English degree, essays, exams, obsessively checking for posted grades etc.
    4. writing
    5. dance class
    6. singing lesson (I’m a double threat, woooo watch out!)
    7. occasional luch with BFF or movie with a mate
    8. download latest ep of Lost, House, Dollhouse, and True Blood
    9. watch DVDs
    10. read
    11. play on YouTube / read blogs / write blogs / Stuff on My Cat / FAILBLOG
    12. thinking
    13. eating, sleeping, bathing etc.

    See how writing just slots in there with everything else? There is no “giving up” and no “sacrifice”, it is just a thing that I do. For me, doing things and learning things is what life is all about.

    “Giving up” and “sacrifice” are such strong and negative words, which is what has been bothering me.

    I don’t see writing as any more of a sacrifice as sleep or work. It’s just a part of life.

  225. KathyF

    Well, I have to say that I haven’t given up anything for writing – since I just started again recently. And I’d already given up so much stuff for my husband and son when we moved to a better place to raise our son. I am reading much more fiction now. And, I guess I don’t play online games as much as I used to.

    My family encourage me to write.


  226. Court

    An income.

  227. rupeboyd

    I have not given up anything. In fact my life is enriched by the characters that fill my mind.

  228. CathyH

    I’ve read through a lot of the posts and have to say that I agree with quite a few of them. Housework is a big one, along with sleep. However, I’ve also found that I’ve given up the ability to enjoy experiences just for enjoyment’s sake. Each memory, experience or occasion has become a potential scene or plot scenario for a novel. Each new, interesting person I meet has become a possible protagonist or adversary. I find myself grasping for distinctive words to illustrate each new sight, every unique sound. After being injured in a recent accident, I pushed through the pain to complete a story outline based on the cause of the injury. I sometimes wish that I could go back to the before… when my mind wasn’t so crowded.

  229. Laini Taylor

    Honestly, I think the only thing is: travel. At least, more frequent world travel. Once upon a time I had a steady job as a travel book editor (for Lonely Planet) and if I’d stuck with that — or some other steady employment — I’m sure I’d have been to more of the places on my “list.”

    But it’s hard to really feel I’ve given up anything. I feel so incredibly lucky to be making a living doing what I love. I’m still hoping the $$s rise and the travel becomes more frequent 🙂

    (Also, just got The Wrestler but haven’t watched it yet. Looking forward to it.)

  230. Mira

    Ben Dutton –


    Okay, I can see giving up an income, friends, family, stability, peace of mind, sleep and health.

    But sex?

    Let’s put this in perpective here.

  231. Yamile

    I can’t give up housework because I’m a maniac, a clean freak. But sleet…with four little ones under 8, and a mind that won’t stop working, sleep is last in my priorities list…

  232. Yamile

    and that was “sleep,” not “sleet.” 22 hours awake will do that…

  233. Anonymous

    Not a single thing. Or if I did, I can’t remember what it was…!

  234. Lisa Lane

    Having a life very far beyond the computer … and keeping up on housework. 😉

  235. Deidra

    I cannot function in a mess, so I have been unable to give up housework. Instead, I’ve dropped most everything from my social calendar. I also rescheduled my gym time and now I no longer get to work out with my best friend. Thankfully, she’s very understanding about that.

  236. Kimber An

    Nothing. Like other moms who need to do other stuff to stay happy, I simply incorporated it into the daily schedule.

  237. Jason Crawford

    Hey thanks to whoever posted the Nathan Top 10 Writing Commandments list…good stuff.

  238. morphine-moniza

    wow so many people sacrificed financial security. I don’t think I’m brave enough to do that. I do have every intention of not procreating but that’s more of a bonus than a sacrifice.

  239. Joseph L. Selby

    My friends enjoy video games. ALL my friends enjoy video games. I don’t have the time for video games. I borrowed Fallout 3 and haven’t played it since February. I have written 40k since February, though.

    (I’m married now, but I did break up with a previous girlfriend who insisted I write less.)

  240. Anonymous

    I’ve sacrificed living in the present and hanging out with the people that I love, some of whom I actually brought into this world in order to hand out with imaginary people I create on the page…….

    And yet…..

  241. Carrie

    Dear Nathan:

    I have a question about the agent process that are not currently answered in your FAQ. I hope you’ll have time to answer in a blog post!

    You’ve talked quite a bit about the statistics behind requesting a partial based on a query, but what about the next step? Once you request a partial, how often do you go the next step and make an offer of representation? I’d be delighted to read any thoughts you have on the subject (reading a partial vs. reading the whole ms, etc.)

    Thank you!

  242. ryan field

    Feeling in my left hand.

    Seriously. Sounds silly, but after working at a keyboard for over fifteen years as an editor and writer, carpel tunnel arrived at 37years old last year.

  243. Anonymous

    This is a funny topic.

    It makes me think about our whole societal thing about needing to sacrifice.

    Sacrifice seems so destructive. It is a very different element than choosing something, as in choosing a writing career. Rather it is about giving up something.

    It implies a deal with the devil, a trade. A bargaining.

    In my observations, many of the individuals who “gave up” things, people, etc. were actually more selfish and less impressive.

    I met a “well known” artist who had more than eleven children he had never supported in any way from various women. I met a Hollywood set designed who had a string of broken relationships behind him.
    I’ve met tons of musicians with no family, money, or personality left at the end of the day. I met a writer who let his pregnant wife still support him while he was half-writing half-baked material.

    The people I have known who ALSO cared about their wife, their kids,
    their other responsibilities have stood out more to me.In many ways, they seemed like more talented artists, writers, etc.- at least as impressive.

    But as people, they were MORE impressive by caring about the lives of the people around them.
    (And, in turn, these creatives were richer and more supported by those people than the ones without them.)

    Gurdjieff called them “good householders” – a basic grounded place to work from for spirituality, creativity, etc.

    At the end of the day, having a true love may do more for a writer than fifteen minutes of fame and glory.

    The writing or art may still endure. The love will pass from (according to some Indigenous beliefs) for seven generations.

    And love will grow one’s art on deeper levels than fifteen minutes of fame ever could.

  244. s.w. vaughn

    Housework, TV, health insurance, and any hope of ever seeing the bright side of sanity or stability.

    Who needs that crap, anyway?

  245. Anonymous

    In order to write one of my favorite piece of work so far, I gave up my dedication to my English class. Needless to say, I flunked it. Thankfully, though, I took an English elective that will count as my English grade for the year.

    I know school should come first, but… you don’t have to cite your sources in your novel!

  246. Shakespeare's Housekeeper

    My hubby is the writer- not me.
    He hasn’t had to give up anything…writing is what he has always done, and that’s that.
    Unlike me, the writers wife…i’ve given up everything so he can do what he loves.

  247. NickerNotes

    Mostly sleep. I gave up a high paying database application developer job when my daughter was born. Couldn’t bear the thought of them being in daycare all the time. If I didn’t write and have my writer friends, I’d probably be in a straight jacket.

  248. Angela

    An eye-catching and well-manicured yard, buns of steel and a cluttered garage and basement.

  249. Shannon Ryan

    My fear, self doubt, video games, television, friends.

  250. Gary Arndt

    I haven’t seen a single friend or family member in two years as I’ve been traveling around the world.

  251. Sun Up

    Housework–my room looks like a…I don’t even want to say–but it should be condemned. I can’t even see the floor anymore. I’d like to blame that on my toddler, but I can’t.

    Time with the boyfriend and daughter. I end up feeling guilty that she’s playing and I’m in my own little world. But I take breaks every so often to play with her and…him (dirty? Ohyesiam)

  252. Cathi Stoler

    I don’t really feel like I’m giving up anything, because I love writing so much. (I could however happily give up all the time I spend rewriting)! I do have less time for other fun stuff, but I think in the end it will be worth it.

  253. Julie Weathers

    Marilyn Peake,

    “Your personal story is extremely moving! I wish you great success with your novel, Paladin.”

    Thanks. In the final revisions rounds before it goes out on submission, so we’ll see. I think it will sell, but if it doesn’t, the next one will.


  254. Horserider

    A social life. Kidding! Mostly… I’ve given up cleaning. Not that I ever did that before I started writing. I do wash dishes though. I find it’s good for my writing creativity.

  255. Samantha Clark

    SLEEP! But I figure I’ll do that when I retire. 🙂

  256. SC Sousa

    The process of writing a novel has been challenging and rewarding, but costly. My wife and I have never had a ton of money, so quality time is the thing we cherish. To that end, it’s how to budget free time that has been the biggest challenge.

    In the midst of writing at least 3 pages a day, I’ve run into many an evening or weekend where I thought, “Finally, I get time to write!” while my wife thought, “Finally, we can go to the beach!”

    Although we figured out how to solve our predicament, it takes continual sacrifice of our free time. I want to write so that I can get noticed, published, and successful, in order to help provide for my wife and I, and to bless others. At the same time, I know I have to give up some of the present to invest in the future.

  257. The Amateur

    I’m lackadaisical and just beginning. I’m still in school, an adult student, who wants an MFA. I really haven’t given up much but TV. I’m having a difficult time with dedication (I sort of let people squander my time), but when I have an idea, I run with it. I try and balance my time between writing and living my life. I only write poetry, creative non-fiction and some fiction and the latter two are only short pieces and essays for now so there’s not much to give up. I’m not sophisticated enough or talented enough to write a full blown novel so sacrifice isn’t pressing.

  258. Chumplet - Sandra Cormier

    Sometimes I look at the comments and realize that after 278, my words would mean nothing.

    However, I’m a sucker for punishment, or at least I’m used to being that invisible kid in the background.

    I gave up housework. Cooking. Gardening. My waistline. Sex. No, not really…

    What I won’t give up is having a laugh with my hubby and two teenagers (reduced to one in a few weeks, she’s turning 20), my painting or my reading.

    I definitely won’t EVER give up watching a hockey game, especially during the playoffs.

  259. Iapetus999

    I left a 6-figure salary at America’s #1 company to work for, including 3 free meals a day, free health insurance, free gym membership, and a MacBook Pro to sit at home in my undies and pretend I can actually write.

    Now I’m depressed. Thanks.

  260. Simon Haynes

    TV, for sure. Hence my addiction to DVD box sets over the past 3-4 years – Buffy, XFiles, Minder .. great way to catch up with all the stuff I’ve missed since around 1991. I write, then reward myself with more DVDs. Works for me!

  261. Allison

    LOL Dayna, I gave up housekeeping before I started writing 🙂

    I gave up television for three years while I was working full-time, raising kids, and writing at night. Now, I rarely watch tv, but reward myself for finishing a project by buying a season of a favorite show and having a tv marathon for a week.

    I also gave up a couple hours of sleep a night. Not joking there, either.

  262. Anonymous

    Hell with motivation. In the movie, just after Ram does his heart attack he’s at the bank it seems, right? First, what does the woman with the (balkan?) accent say to him? Then she hands him an envelope with money, right? Who sent it please and what does it say? I can hardly see far and near. Thanks anyone and everyone.

  263. Susan Gabriel

    Status. I used to be a successful psychotherapist with a full practice and people looked up to me. Now I’m a struggling writer. This is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Success in this field has eluded me.

  264. Anonymous

    I met you at the PPWC recently. Enjoyed chatting briefly with you. What I gave up…. I quit my Clinical Psych PhD program to do what my high school English teacher was sure I should do. Don’t regret it. Karen Lin

  265. Henri

    My sanity..com

  266. Anonymous

    I suppose I “gave up” family life, social life, tv, housework, lots of bourgeois comforts and standards — but the only thing I really wanted of all that was financial security. Not the big house, but a small house with a safety net. I had a good job years back, but the hours were too long, although the money was substantial. My colleagues called themselves prostitutes — they were consultants. I bailed.

  267. Taffy

    I’ve given up some sleep, housework, scrapbook and recently I gave up piano lessons. Too much creativity flowing away 🙂

  268. Anatole


    Also: peace and quiet. I’m one of the lucky (?) people who hear their characters in their head at all hours of the day. Including at night, when I’m trying to get to sleep so I can get up at five o’clock in the morning the next day.

  269. Mr Verne

    Gave up my well paid job in London, moved back in with my parents, and signed on to the dole. I’m 32, broke, and have taken a monumental leap.


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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