Writing is hard. Whether you’re a seasoned author or an aspiring writer, putting words down on paper can be discouraging. How can we continue to write when disappointment, impediments or obstacles get in our way? Here are 9 ways to keep on writing when it gets difficult.
Remember Who you’re writing for. I think because writing is so very personal, we feel so keenly the roadblocks life throws in our writing path. The rejection by an editor or agent. Dismal book sales. Writer’s block. The long journey toward publication. When we keep in mind that we’re really all writing for an audience of One, it’s much easier to hang on during times of discouragement.
“What encourages me most is God’s faithfulness,” says Rebecca Barlow Jordan. “His Word is so full of precious promises and encouragement, that every day when I spend time with Him and open His Word, He speaks personal words of encouragement that keep me moving forward, even in the most discouraging times.”
“One of my first writing mentors told me that writing a novel is more about what God is teaching me than about learning how to write a story,” adds MaryAnn Diorio. “She was right! I also get very excited when a reader tells me that he or she either came to Christ or drew closer to Christ because of something I wrote.”
Recognize the seasonality of life. Sometimes, writing will be easier than at other times because we all go through busier seasons of life. When those times come, take heart. God has placed you in that circumstance for His glory and your good. I know it’s not easy to go through those times, but God will see you through—and your writing will be all the better for your having gone through that. “I was 73 before my first novel was published, and now I have 60 novels and novellas books,” says Martha Rogers. “At age 85, I still have ideas in my head and summaries on file I still want to write.”
Remember the successes, no matter how small. In the midst of discouragement, it can be difficult to recall the high points in our writing—but it’s then that we need to remind ourselves of the positives. “When you read a review and the reviewer understands exactly what you were trying to do with that story—that’s a huge encouragement to me,” says Patrick E. Craig. “Over Christmas, my daughter came in my office crying because she had been reading one of my recent books and a short chapter struck her so deeply that she came in to give me a hug. Those are the things that keep you writing.”
Rejoice in the success of others. This can be a hard one, especially if you’ve been struggling to become published or noticed for a while. But I’ve found rejoicing in the success of my fellow writers lightens my own heart—and spurs me to write more myself. I recognize that I’m on a different publication path than you are. While I might be tempted to become jealous or envious of another’s success, in reality, I really don’t want that success because it’s NOT mine.
“It’s so easy to see so-and-so getting a big book deal and wondering why this didn’t happen for you,” says Lenora Worth. “Don’t try to be the next so-in-so. Be the first you. God gives each of us a unique writing style for a reason. We have to write true to our voices and we have to find our voice. When you doubt, remind yourself of your dream and keep working on that dream and celebrate your writing style. This mantra has helped me over some very high hurdles in my writing career.”
Reconnect with other writers. Writing can be a lonely and solitary practice, and if we’re not careful, we’ll insulate ourselves too much and miss out on how encouraging being with other writers is to our souls and our work. “When I’m feeling discouraged about my writing it helps me to talk to other writing friends whom I’ve built trust with,” says Donna Gartshore. “We cheer for each other in the good times and bolster each other in the bad.”
Restart with prayer. As Christian authors, we have direct access to the throne of God through prayer. Praying for our writing isn’t selfish—it’s essential to our calling as Christian writers. “Any time I start to doubt, I simply ask God if it’s time for me to lay writing aside,” says Deborah Rather, who writes as Arlene James. “So far, it’s been like turning on a tap, as if simply asking starts the creative process. Before I know what’s happening, ideas start percolating, and I’m eager to get back to work.”
Resolve to press on. It can be difficult to continue writing when discouragement fills our thoughts. But as those called by God to write, we must. “Since I can’t bring myself to write unless I have every single detail of a scene already planned out, I sometimes put off writing until I know exactly what will happen and how it will conclude,” says Jackie Stef. “Unfortunately that leads to procrastination for me. Sometimes I have to give myself a good kick in the pants and say ‘just do it.’ A book won’t write itself after all, and I have to remind myself of that often.”
Re-evaluate your writing. Sometimes, it’s good to listen to those who like our writing and to read our own writing without such a critical eye. “I am encouraged [to continue writing] by even the slightest compliment about my writing, or even a hint that it shows promise,” says Bill Jenkins. “I’m encouraged when I’m excited about my own writing, when I read back over it and like what I read,” agrees Natalie Walters.
Rest in your writing journey. Be content, my fellow writers, where you are along your writing path. You’re exactly where God wants you to be, so be faithful. Be steady in your writing. Be ready for the future. “It’s always something surprising—a Divine moment—when the Lord pulls back the curtain to show me how someone has been touched by my writing,” says Joan Benson. “My heart is moved to know just one person has been encouraged or enlightened by something I felt God poured into my consciousness and into words. Then I keep going!”
“I am especially encouraged and ready to go back to my writing when someone randomly sends an email or handwritten letter to let me know that they are thankful for my ministry because something I wrote in an article or book impacted them,” points out Cindi McMenamin. “I always feel it’s God’s way of giving me a hug through someone else’s words when He knows I’m tired, discouraged, or just wondering if anyone else is even reading anymore. God’s timing is always perfect when it comes to sending me these pieces of encouragement to help me soar once again.”
When you feel discouraged in your writing, use one of these 9 ways to press on with your writing. If you’d like help, sign up for my free Writing Breakthrough Session to see how coaching with me can get you unstuck in your writing.
Romantic suspense author Rhonda Starnes recently stopped by my blog to share some about her writing life and her most recent romantic suspense, Perilous Wilderness Escape.
What’s the hardest part of writing romantic suspense? Weaving the romance thread in with the suspense so that they are balanced. The suspense and danger has to be front and center, but I never want a reader to get to the end of the story and feel like they didn’t see the romance blossom as they story unfolded.
How do you come up with titles for your books? This question made me smile. I am horrible at coming up with book titles. It’s much harder than actually writing the book. Fortunately for me, I have an amazing editor and creative department offering suggestions when I get stuck. For this particular book, after I sent in a few title suggestions, they came back with two of their own, and Perilous Wilderness Escape was one of them.
What’s your go-to when you need a pick-me-up to keep writing? Dove Dark Chocolate & Almond. I love the sweet treat, but I also enjoy the encouraging messages inside the wrappers.
How do you ensure your books are accurate? Lots and lots of research! I also have several family members and friends in various law enforcement and medical fields, and I am constantly asking them questions. I’m also in several online groups with professionals who graciously answer questions for writers
What is absolutely essential for you to write? I need solitude. Not necessarily quiet, because sometimes I like to listen to 80s music, but if anyone else is in the house, I’m not nearly as productive.
About Rhonda Starnes Rhonda is a retired middle school language arts teacher. She lives in North Alabama with her husband, who she lovingly refers to as Mountain Man. They enjoy traveling and spending time with their children and grandchildren. Rhonda writes romantic suspense with rugged heroes and feisty heroines.
Perilous Wilderness Escape An undercover mission…turns into life and death
Hot on the trail of a ruthless drug cartel, FBI agent Randy Ingalls is nearly killed in an ambush—and left with amnesia. Now FBI agent Katherine Lewis must protect her undercover partner from the ruthless drug cartel pursuing them across the rugged Colorado mountains. Can she decipher the clues in his lost memory, or will she lose the case—and her partner—for good?
Hearts and Goals by Carolyn Miller –He’s a goalie with a big heart, while she’s afraid to trust again. After a series of tragedies, Maggie Joly’s dreams have been confined to her work at Montreal’s botanic gardens and caring for her little boy. Besides, wishing for more would simply be selfish, especially when she’s already loved well. But when a surprising workplace encounter sees her in the arms of a handsome sweet-talking stranger, she’s soon forced to reassess whether romance might still be in her future after all. (Contemporary Romance, Independently published)
Peace in the Mountain Haven by Misty M. Beller — Watkuese is desperate to return across the Rocky Mountains before winter sets in. Time is running out for her to get her adopted daughter back to the familiar surroundings of the Shoshone village before the grief of her parents’ death causes irreparable damage. Hugh Charpentier has spent his life watching over his siblings, which meant also ensuring his brother’s widow and babe are settled well into their new life. Now he’s asked to help shepherd a woman and child he barely knows across the mountains. As hard as it is to keep up with a six-year-old in the treacherous Rockies, it’s not nearly as dangerous as risking his heart to a woman and child who may not ever be his. (Historical Romance, Independently published)
The Spark of Love by Amanda Cabot — When a spurned suitor threatens her, heiress Alexandra Tarkington flees New York for Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country, where her father is building a hotel. But the happy reunion she envisions is not to be as her father insists she return to New York. Instead, Alexandra attempts to carve out a niche for herself in town, teaching schoolchildren to paint and enjoying the company of Gabe Seymour, a delightful man she met on the stagecoach. But all is not as it seems. Two men, each with his own agenda, have followed her to Mesquite Springs. And Gabe is an investigator, searching for proof that her father is a swindler. When a series of apparent accidents threaten her life, Alexandra and Gabe will have to work together to discover the truth. And perhaps along the way they will discover that the sparks of attraction they’ve felt from the beginning are more than sparks – they’re love. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Counterfeit Love by Crystall Caudill — Can this undercover agent save the woman he loves–or is her heart as counterfeit as the money he’s been sent to track down? After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa Plane owes it to him to save the family name–and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors’ threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn’t all Grandfather was hiding. And the secrets he kept have now trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home–and the truth. (Historical Romance from Kregel Publications)
Ellie’s Escape by Linda Shenton Matchett –Ellie Wagner is fine being a spinster school teacher. Then she witnesses a bank hold up and can identify the bandits. Fellow robbery victim Milly Crenshaw happens to run the Westward Home & Hearts Matrimonial Agency so she arranges for Ellie to head West as a mail-order bride. But her groom only wants a business arrangement. Can she survive a loveless marriage? Banker Julian Sheffield is more comfortable with numbers than with people, but he’s done well for himself. Then the bank president tells him that in order to advance further he must marry in six weeks’ time. The candid, unsophisticated woman sent by the agency is nothing like he expected, but time is running out. When her past comes calling, does he have what it takes to ensure their future? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Gracie’s Surrender by Blossom Turner –Helping the orphan children in Richmond just might overturn everything Gracie thought she knew, including the value of love. Gracie Williams has always had an adventurous streak, which led her from her home in the Shenandoah Valley to Richmond, Virginia, where she can devote her life to the orphan children. Though her beauty has brought on the advances of many men, she has no plans to marry, and finds suitors an unfortunate irritation she doesn’t have time for—much to her parents’ chagrin. When she befriends Matthew Weston, the mature and serious orphanage superintendent, she confides in him and believes he shares her goals. Neither are prepared for the sparks that fly. Tension grows as Matthew falls in love with her, yet realizes he is just another man in the long line of would-be suitors. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)
Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik — A Friendship From the Past Brings Closure to Dani’s Fractured Family. When Dani Sango’s art forger father passes away, Dani inherits his home. There, she finds a book of Native American drawings, which leads her to seek museum curator Brad Osgood’s help to decipher the ledger art. Why would her father have this book? Is it another forgery? Brad Osgood longs to provide his four-year-old niece, Brynn, the safe home she desperately deserves. The last thing he needs is more drama, especially from a forger’s daughter. But when the two meet “accidentally” at St. Augustine’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, he can’t refuse the intriguing woman. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Obedient Unto Death by Liisa Eyerly — Sinister forces are at work to destroy the fledgling Christian faith in Ephesus, and Sabina is in their way. A young scribe is murdered during a covert Christian worship service. Sabina, a member of this outlawed religion, can’t believe a member of this new faith could be the killer. But when her Roman magistrate father arrests the church bishop for murder, she reluctantly admits all is not brotherly love and harmony among the faithful. Racing to stop the bishop’s imminent execution, Sabina plunges into the private world of the dead scribe, searching for proof of the bishop’s innocence. Mystery, intrigue, and betrayal meet her at every turn. Will she discover the truth in time, or will she be thrown in prison herself for her faith in Christ? (Mystery from Crossriver Media Group)
Bitter Truth by Janet Sketchley — Who would want Ciara dead? And why? Against all odds, Landon Smith and her ordinary-hero neighbour Bobby Hawke survived a murderous plot six weeks ago. Now, she’s determined to leave solving mysteries to the experts—like handsome local police officer Dylan Tremblay. But when a friend is nearly killed in a daring daylight attack, Landon can’t sit this out. Not when she knows the anger of being a victim. Her faith tells her to leave room for God’s vengeance. Her heart says to retaliate. The fight to expose Ciara’s enemy will uncover secrets and betrayal that could cost Landon her life. (Mystery, Independently published)
Madness in Wonderland by Tabitha Bouldin — Wonderland is in trouble. Under the rule of the Red Queen, Wonderland is under constant threat. In fear for her throne, children are taken into the queen’s army and only the strongest survive. Alice is nothing but a pirate, but with the help of Hatter, they hatch a plan to sneak into the Red Queen’s palace to free Hatter’s sister. After all, Alice has always wanted to fly an airship. Dr. Frank N. Stein has created an army of automatons to serve their queen. Of particular note: a prototype soldier. Part man. Part machine. The best of both worlds. Doc’s monster is a threat to everything they know, but Alice sees something in the man that begs she look beyond what he’s done and search out the heart of the beast for the better of the realm. He’s their only hope of survival, but how can a monster learn to love when all he’s known is hate? (Speculative Fiction from Celebrate Lit Publishing) Forbidden by Gina Detwiler — After thousands of years imprisoned in the Abyss, the fallen angels known as the Watchers are on the loose. Jared Lorn and Grace Fortune have also escaped from prison, but all they want to do is get home to their family. Dark forces conspire against them, and soon they find themselves on a perilous journey to the Other Side, the spiritual realm. They must battle the Watcher Samyaza and his cohorts to escape, not knowing that the leader of the Watchers, Azazel, has taken control of the real world and subjugated all nations to his will. Soon they must join the few that are left standing against this worldwide evil, those that have not given in, known as the Forbidden. (Speculative Fiction from VINSPIRE)
Still Water by Betty Thomason Owens — rime reporter, Jake Bradley, has stumbled onto a suspicious accident. The clues lead him to Lisa Oliver, the daughter of the victims. Something about her draws Jake Bradley, and he vows to help her at all costs. When the FBI warns him off the case, Jake is more determined than ever to find the truth and keep Lisa safe. After the sudden death of her parents, Lisa Oliver yearns for a place to call home. When she meets Jake, she wants to trust him, but her father’s mantras of self-sufficiency and independence create a stumbling block. As the wall between them crumbles, the past encroaches, and Lisa fears she will never be free. Is she forever doomed to her parents’ nomadic lifestyle, fleeing unseen enemies? (Thriller/Suspense from Write Integrity Press)
Malicious Intent by Lynn H. Blackburn — Founder and CEO of Hedera, Inc., Dr. Ivy Collins has dedicated her life to developing technology to help amputees like her stepfather, and the results have been lauded by government, medical, and advocacy groups worldwide. Now that she is on the cusp of having her cutting-edge prosthetic technology become a reality, someone is trying to sabotage her success. When US Secret Service Special Agent Gil Dixon is assigned to investigate an issue involving his childhood best friend, Ivy Collins, he’s ecstatic that fate has brought them back together. Gil has always held a torch for her, and he doesn’t want to let her slip away again. When Ivy continues to be targeted for her technology, Gil will have to use everything he has to keep Ivy—and her life’s work—safe from harm. Can they figure out who the culprit is before innocent lives are caught in the crossfire? Or will dangerous circumstances demand that Ivy give it all up—to save someone else? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Her Darkest Secret by Jessica R. Patch — The sight of a goose feather at a murder scene modeled after a children’s poem is enough to make FBI special agent Fiona Kelly’s blood turn to ice. Almost two decades ago, a feather was left with her sister’s body—and with every subsequent victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer. Now he’s back. Only this time, his latest gruesome murder is a message to the only one who ever got away: Fiona. Finding “Rhyme” is an obsession that’s fueled Fiona’s career—and destroyed her marriage to fellow FBI agent Asa Kodiak. Now Fiona and Asa have to put their past tensions aside and work together one last time. But Rhyme is watching, and catching this killer may force Fiona to reveal her biggest, darkest secret…the one only he knows. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Texas Cold Case Threat by Jessica R. Patch — After a murderer sends her taunting letters, FBI behavioral analyst Chelsey Banks retreats to a friend’s ranch—and interrupts the housekeeper being attacked. When evidence connects the break-in to a cold-case serial killer, Chelsey’s best friend, Texas Ranger Tack Holliday, needs her help. With Tack at her side, this could be Chelsey’s chance to catch two killers—unless one of them gets her first. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
The Element of Love by Mary Conneally — With their sharp engineering minds, Laura Stiles and her two sisters have been able to deal with their mother’s unfortunate choice in husband, until they discover his plans to marry each of them off to his lecherous friends. Now they must run away–far and fast–to find better matches to legally claim their portion of their father’s lumber dynasty and seize control from their stepfather. When Laura befriends a mission group heading to serve the poor in California during their escape, she quickly volunteers herself and her sisters to join their efforts. Despite the settlement being in miserable condition, the sisters are excited by the opportunity to put their skills to good use. Laura also sees potential in Caleb, the local minister, to help with gaining her inheritance. But when secrets buried in Caleb’s past and in the land around them come to light, it’ll take all the smarts the sisters have to keep trouble at bay. (Western from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
An Odd Request by LuAnn K. Edwards, Will Becca leave the warmth and love of her small, close-knit community to marry Ben, a man she hasn’t seen in twelve years and someone who may never love her? (Contemporary Romance)
The Amadeus Variation by Kathy Webster, In 1791, betrayal, false accusation, ill health, and broken relationships drive two unlikely companions to escape Austria. (General Historical)
How many times have you said, “I wish I had more time to write?” While we can’t cram more hours into a day, we can find more ways to incorporate writing into our busy schedules. Learn how from veteran freelance writer, author and writers coach Sarah Hamaker in the FREE webinar, Reclaim Your Writing Time.
Award-winning author Terri Reed recently stopped by my blog to share some about her writing life and her most recent romantic suspense, Secret Sabotage.
What’s the hardest part of writing romantic suspense? For me the hardest part of writing romantic suspense is finding inventive ways of putting my characters into jeopardy. There are only so many scenarios that are realistic enough to be dangerous, give the action and suspense necessary to keep the tension high. I try to balance my writing with the romance and keeping the tension of the relationship high while still giving a realistic arc so that the characters can fall in love by the end.
What’s the weirdest way someone has died or been killed in your novels? I’m always searching for creative ways to torture my characters or cause a secondary character’s demise. In my book The Doctor’s Defender, I had cupcakes laced with arsenic kill of a minor character. In Mission to Protect, I had salad dressing laced with hemlock that almost did in the heroine, but the K-9 dog alerted and kept her from dying. In Treacherous Slopes, the bad guy planted poisonous spiders in the overhead light of the hero’s trailer.
What’s your go-to when you need a pick-me-up to keep writing? My pick-me-ups depend on what’s keeping me from writing. If I’ve hit a wall in the story, I call my critique partner and we brainstorm ideas. If I’ve lost steam and motivation, I look for a class to take that will fill my creative well. If I’m tired/sore/don’t want to sit at the computer, I find some other place to write: dictate in the bathtub, use pen and paper at the dining table or go for a walk and think through the scenes I want to write.
About Terri Reed Terri Reed’s award-winning romance and romantic suspense novels have appeared on Publishers Weekly top 10 Romance Bestsellers and Publishers Weekly top 10 Religion Fiction Bestsellers, Publishers Weekly top 10 Mass Market Paperback Bestsellers, Nielsen’s Bookscan top 100 Bestsellers and featured in USA Today and have been Amazon Bestsellers, as well as Fresh Picks at Fresh Fiction. Her novel A Family Under the Christmas Tree was adapted into a Hallmark movie and retitled Picture a Perfect Christmas in 2019. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her college-sweetheart husband. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and agility training with her dog.
Secret Sabotage by Terri Reed The crash was intentional…But he can’t remember why.
With no memory of the crash that landed him in a hospital, Ian Delaney is determined to uncover who sabotaged his helicopter—without the protection of his family-appointed bodyguard. But Simone Walker’s used to stubborn clients and won’t let Ian leave her sight. To catch an unknown traitor, they must rely on each other…or the next attack could prove lethal.