Thursday, October 1, 2015

On Your Left—A New Perspective on the Writing Journey

by Lynn Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

A few weeks ago, my family and I rode the Virginia Creeper Trail. Built on an old railroad bed, the Virginia Creeper Trail offers a unique biking experience. 17 miles.



It’s an amazing ride. The scenery is stunning and the trail is open to cyclists of all experience levels. As you head down the mountain, you see professionals wearing their padded bike shorts, wild little boys on their 20” bikes peddling as fast as their legs can go, infants snoozing in their bike seats, and parents cruising along with their toddler behind them on a tagalong.

For the most part, the cyclists are respectful of the trail and their fellow cyclists. There’s a real sense of camaraderie. After all, we’re all on the same trail, headed in the same direction. We all want to achieve the same thing—to get to the bottom safely and have a great time doing it.

With such a variety of skill levels, it would be boring if you had to start down the trail and ride in single file. Fortunately, that’s not how it works. There may be a bit of bunching up at the top, but before long everyone finds their own rhythm. The faster riders start calling out the standard warning, “On your left!” as they pass the riders taking the trail at a more leisurely pace.

As I rode with my 4-year-old on the tagalong, it didn’t take long for me to hear someone behind me call out, “On your left!” moments before they sailed past me. Over the course of our ride, there were plenty of cyclists who passed me and I never saw them again.

Some passed me, and then I passed them, and then they passed me and we went back and forth like that the whole time, depending on whose kids needed a break or how long we paused to check out a waterfall or take pictures of some red barns.

I heard, “On your left!” a lot on the ride and that was okay. I wasn’t in a hurry. I wanted to enjoy the experience. I was with my family and the pace had to work for all of us.

When I heard, “On your left,” there was no sense of frustration or jealousy. I felt no aggravation at the pace the passing cyclist had set or the progress they had made. I harbored no secret desire to swerve over and block their progress or impede their journey.

Why? Because it wasn’t a race.

I’ve been hearing, “On your left,” a lot on my writing journey as well.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Those writers you started out with? They are signing with agents, signing with publishers, and signing books with their name on them.

You might think that being able to call yourself a published author would eliminate that sense of being passed or left behind.


You see the pictures of authors at national conferences while you’re at home in yoga pants with your hair in a ponytail, no makeup, and a sink full of dishes. You watch an awards ceremony and see names of people you know flash across the screen. You clap and cheer for them and you really are happy. For them.

But for you?

You start wondering when it will be your turn. If it will ever be your turn.
(This is all hypothetical of course…)

So, hypothetically, should this happen to you, maybe it would help to remember . . .

It’s not a race.

Your journey down the trail won’t look like anyone else’s.

Some of the people on the trail, well, they are going to leave you in their dust. That’s okay. Let them go. Realize that they are writing at a pace you cannot sustain. Not yet. Maybe when you’ve been on the trail longer you’ll build up the endurance and expertise to keep pace with them. For now, enjoy reading their books and tell your friends to read their books. Send them emails and leave them great reviews.

Most of the people on the trail are people you’ll be experiencing this ride with for years. You’re going to see them at conferences and hang out with them on-line, and sometimes they’ll pass you and sometimes you’ll pass them, and if you’re very blessed, they’ll become friends and your journey will be sweeter for them. Show up at their book signings and help them brainstorm. If they get tired or life forces them to take a break, don’t forget about them.

And whatever you do, always remember that there are kids on this trail. They are fresh and young and they have no idea what they are doing. They need advice. At some point, you’ll have an opportunity to call out, “On your left!” — or pull over and help them pump up a tire (or plot line). Don’t forget what it was like during your first years on this journey. Every now and then, take the time to help the newbies out.

Finally, take a deep breath and look around.

Is there anywhere else you’d really rather be?


Then keep pedaling.

It’s an amazing ride.

Share some of your stories from the journey of writing? Don't forget to join the conversation!

#Writing & #Publishing—It's a journey, not a race - @LynnHBlackburn on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

A New Perspective on the #Writing Journey - via author @LynnHBlackburn on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. 

She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. 

She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at


  1. Hi Lynn, I loved this post. It was such a great reminder to me that I don't have to hurry. My time lately has been taken up with helping my family through some medical issues, and often I'm tired. I either don't have time to write or don't feel like writing. I had just come to the conclusion not long ago that it was OK to be in this down time. Your post gave me the reassurance that I am good where I am at. At some point, I may be able to pick up the pace again, but for now, I will do what I can in the time I have and not feel like I am less of a writer for it. Thanks again.

    1. "...and not feel like I am less of a writer for it." - AMEN! I need to remember that, too!

  2. Absolutely beautiful, Lynn. Well written, poignant, and spot-on. A reminder every writer needs, wherever they are on the trail.

  3. Thank you for this fresh perspective, Lynn. I'm currently reading Emily P. Freeman's new release, "Simply Tuesday" (a-mazing!) and one line that continues to pop up says you can either have competition or community -- but you can't have both. Your post illustrates this beautifully. :)

    1. I love Emily Freeman. Simply Tuesday is on my TBR list...I may need to bump it up to the top. :) Love that...competition or community but not both. So true.

  4. I love this. Thank you for the reminder. At times, I have felt "left behind". A year ago I attended my first writers conference. I did not want to write. I write out of obedience to the Lord. He changed my heart. I feel a need to write now. Over the last year, I have met many writers, who are now close friends. When I began to feel left behind, God impressed heavily on my spirit to encourage and promote my author friends. He would promote the work that He is doing in and through me in His perfect timing. I find great joy and peace when I promote and encourage my writer friends. I know this is my calling and I am grateful. By Gods grace and favor, I signed my first book contract yesterday. Many of my authors friends are rejoicing with me. I am so humbled by their love and encouragement. I love when the body of Christ works together. I will continue to encourage and promote my brothers and sisters. that is the gift that God gave me. When one says "On your left" I will be cheering and Praising God with them.

    1. "I feel great joy and peace when I promote and encourage..." Such a great point and so true! Congrats on your contract!!!

  5. I love writing. I am the kid on the trail who needs guidance though. I can express myself ten thousand times easier in writing and would love to be able to do something with this gift.

  6. Jennifer, this is a truly inspirational piece with great applications! Our God has set a course for each of us to run, according to the pace that HE prescribes, and we are to enjoy the journey! :)

  7. What a terrific analogy and writeup. Love it. you not only expressed an important point but captured it in a vivid way. Love it.

  8. Thank you for words to live by. Who doesn't love and need encouragement from others?

  9. Lynn, thanks so much for comparing our writing journey in such a way each of us can relate to it, no matter where we might be on the trail.

  10. Thank you, this post fed my soul today. Your writing is beautiful. I'm definitely going to get one of your books!