Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Reality Check for those Beginning the Professional Writing Journey

by Lynn Blackburn 

Maybe I’m the only one who’s ever done this, but sometimes I read writing advice . . . and I roll my eyes.

I’m way too polite to do anything like that to someone’s face, of course.  But the truth is that I have at times been rather, well, how can I put this?


I was so sure my writing journey wouldn’t look quite like anyone else’s.

You know what I’m talking about, right?

It’s the literary equivalent of the things we say—or at least think—BEFORE we have children . . . and then get to eat when our three-year-old is flat on their back on the floor of the laundry detergent aisle in the middle Target.

Here are a few examples from my own experience. (Your mileage may vary)

What People Say: “You’ll lose some sleep.”
What I’ve Thought: “I won’t make a habit out of staying up late to meet my deadlines.” Sleep is important. Running around on four hours of sleep is not sustainable for most of us.
What Actually Happened: When the only time things get quiet enough for you to form a coherent thought is when the tiny tyrants are all snug in their beds, you know what? You do what you gotta do. Sometimes that means writing until the wee hours of the morning even though you know there will be serious repercussions.

What People Say: “You’ll need to miss a few workouts.”
What I’ve Thought: “Nope.”  I’m not a six-times-a-week kind of exercise girl, but I love my CrossFit box. I workout early in the morning so very few things can get in the way. And exercise is important for health and wellbeing.
What Actually Happened: With a deadline approaching, I missed most of my workouts because I just could not get my act together during the day, (see point #1). It’s hard to get up at five when you don’t go to bed until two.

What People Say: “Who needs a shower?” I’ve noticed that from time to time some of my favorite authors will allude to the fact that because they’re on a deadline, they haven’t washed their hair or changed clothes for a few days.
What I’ve Thought: “Writing will never lead me to neglect personal hygiene.”
What Actually Happened: A few weeks ago I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It was terrifying. My hair that hadn’t been washed in three days and had been hastily twisted up and put in a clip. But it was now falling down—and not in the way hair falls around faces in romance novels. No. This looked like something out of a horror movie. No makeup. Glasses instead of contacts. I was wearing a t-shirt I’d worn the day before and gym pants (even though I hadn’t been to the gym).

What People Say: “You’ll have to say ‘no’ to time with family and friends.”
What I’ve Thought: This one has always bothered me. A lot. Because really? If your writing means you can’t have friends or see your family then something is seriously out of whack. Right?
What Actually Happened: I’ve come to see that handling this is very personal and subjective, but the bottom line is you’re probably going to have to skip some family gatherings, some coffee dates with your girlfriends, some book club meetings, and even, dare I say it? Deep breath  . . . some church activities.


I know. I know. Sacrilege. Except . . . in my daily life, I have a small number of things I know for certain are what God has for me to do. I’m a wife and a mom. I homeschool. I write.

Everything—everything—else in my life has to be held up to some tough scrutiny before I can say yes. I have to check the areas I know are God’s will for me and see if they are doing okay. Have I spent any time with my husband? Do we have clean clothes? How many nights this week have we had takeout? Have my kids seen me for any length of time without a laptop in front of me? I might need to grab lunch with a friend because she’s a wealth of wisdom and I’ll walk away refreshed and encouraged as a mom. Or I might need to pass on an evening out for coffee because as wonderful as the fellowship would be, it would put me out late—for the fourth night in a row.  The questions are tough and not everyone understands the rationale behind the answers.

Much like parenting, I’m discovering the writing life requires intentionality and flexibility. Lots of prayer. And lots of grace.

So how about you? What have you done that you thought you’d never do as a writer?

Let’s talk about it (maybe laugh together?) in the comments.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

A reality check for those beginning the professional #writing journey - @LynnHBlackburn (Click to Tweet)

The reality of a #writerslife may look different than we expect - insight from @LynnHBlackburn (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. Her first book, Covert Justice, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, Hidden Legacy, releases June 2017. You can follow her real life happily ever after on FacebookTwitterPinterest, Instagram, and at


  1. Great insight, Lynn, and so true. I am afraid the world regards the writing life as glamorous and leisurely (after all, all you are doing is writing!) but you have painted a perfect picture. Thanks for your inspiration and example of one following God's call to the writing life.

    1. Thank you, Linda! You are an inspiration to me!! So thankful for your friendship and that I get to do this writing thing with you!

  2. I haven't get to that point but friends, family and relatives cannot understand when you say no, I got writing to do.
    Thanks for the post, Lynn.

    1. It really is hard for them to understand. People say you need a thick skin to deal with the publishing world, but I think sometimes you need a thick skin to deal with the people who love you, but just don't get it. And at the same time, you need a soft heart to be open to the possibility that sometimes they are right and you need to take a break! :)

  3. Thank you. This is very helpful!

  4. When my kids were little we had a fun song titled, Hey, Mom Get Off The Computer, and then it went into all the antics the kids did to get their mom away from the computer. I was sure my kids would never sing that song to me. I was wrong.

    1. My kids would probably like that song a lot!! I really do try to write when they won't notice - at night, during quiet time, etc. But there's always something - an email or social media or a deadline - that leaves me feeling like my laptop is permanently attached to my fingers!

  5. I cannot wait to meet you at BRMCWC. So far, I'm failing at balancing the writing life and the mom life and the homeschool life. Must by why I'm teaching a class called "Writing Through the Chaos"--ha!

    1. LOL! I totally plan on taking your class if I can!! It's always a juggling act and I'm always open to new ideas!

  6. I had a good laugh at this and then I went and took a shower after three days of NOT.

    1. Yes! Since I posted this, I've realized there are more than a few people who just don't get it. And I understand. I used to be one of them. :) Although after I wrote this I realized I should have clarified that I *had* actually showered during that time - I just couldn't be bothered with the extra time and aggravation of washing my hair/drying it, etc. But that's only because I am one of those 2-showers-a-day kind of people, so cutting down to one a day is pretty significant for me!!

  7. I didn't really know what to expect (debut recently released). I just started writing and...well...neglecting everything else that I possibly could! There are times I didn't have much choice, but there were times I did but chose writing. I'm going to try to prioritize better the next time around. I'm carrying some guilt, but I'm blessed with a supportive hubby and 17 & 20 yr. old daughters. But still...I have to do better next time!

  8. Yup. I thought I could "do it all". Not. Even. Close. Glad I'm not alone.