The writing game is really, really easy to quit. Maybe it's because your first novel always sucks but, like an American Idol first-rounder, you have no idea. Maybe it's because you need to write a million words before you start writing good ones. Maybe it's because you get rejected 100 times before something clicks and you understand why.
I don't mind if people quit -- less competition for me. But since you guys keep coming back and saying such nice things, I'm going to tell you a few secrets to keep you in the game.
It's okay to rehash old plots. I quit for almost a decade because I rewrote The Fellowship of the Ring without realizing it. Granted that novel would never have sold as written. But I could have worked the story and reworked it. I could've injected it with other rehashed plots, original twists, and my own voice until it was something fresh. Everything's been done and will be done again. Don't let that stop you.
Your first draft will suck. Write it anyway. Everything bad can be made good with revision. Even something good can be made better. But you can't revise a blank page.
Everything can be deleted. That clever turn of phrase? Gone. That supposedly-important chapter? Don't need it. That boy you thought was the protagonist, but actually this girl over here is far more interesting? Delete him. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is necessary. Everything can be cut. Try it and see.
Your first story will not be published. Harsh? Yeah, but it's better for you to know now. Don't let it stop you. Try and get published anyway, because the stuff you learn from failing will help you too. Who knows? You might get lucky. But don't be surprised when your dreams are shattered, cutting your bare feet on the floor.
You have more than one story in you. A lot of folks learn the previous truth the hard way then get bitter, decide the game is rigged. It's not rigged, it's hard. The only way to keep your hopes from piling up on a story that can't sustain them is to write another story. And another one after that. If your dream is to get published, then keep writing until it happens. Who knows? Maybe you can pull that first story back out of the gutter, rinse it off, cut it up, and try again.
How about you? Got any secrets?