Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thoughts on Handling Challenges as a Writer

"As long as you don't quit, it will get easier—and harder." -Lynn Blackburn
by Lynn Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

My family vacations every summer at a small lake house in the mountains of North Carolina.

It’s now one of our favorite places in the world but as I recall, my first trip to the house wasn’t particularly pleasant. My aunt and uncle own the house and they had invited our extended family to come for a cookout. They gave us detailed directions but I think half of us got lost that first time.

The directions were great, but the roads were confusing, they were gravel, and they were steep. For the first couple of years, every time I needed to run an errand I would grip the steering wheel and pray that I wouldn’t meet another car—or a deer—on the steep hills in the subdivision.

But this summer, five years after that first trip, we loaded our kids into the van and took off late on a Friday evening and I didn’t have a second of trepidation. I wasn’t worried about getting turned around, even in the dark.

The day after we arrived, I made a quick trip to the grocery store. As I went up a particularly steep hill, two deer ran in front of me. I hit my brakes and sat there for a minute to watch them. When I dropped my minivan down into the lowest possible gear and started back up the hill, I didn’t panic when I went backward for a few seconds before the wheels found traction and I climbed the hill with relative ease.

When I reached the top of the hill I thought about how much easier it is now. And here’s the thing…the roads are exactly the same. They are still twisty. Still gravel. Still steep.

What’s changed isn’t the challenge. What’s changed is my ability to handle the challenge. And that change happened because of repeated practice. The more often I got up and down those hills, the more confident I became that I would make it to my final destination.

You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

As writers, we start our journey toward publication and it is full of unknowns. Sometimes we get completely lost and have to stop and regroup.

We clutch our one sheets and force ourselves to hand our work over for critique. We hit roadblocks and dead ends and sometimes it feels like we are going backward.

When you’re in the thick of it, it can feel like it will never get easier. But several years into this, I can tell you that as long as you don’t quit, it will get easier.

Of course, as some things get easier, you’ll find yourself in a new place with new obligations.

And it will be hard again.

I thought about all of this as I sat at the stop sign on that steep gravel road. I’m in another season of firsts and there’s something new and scary around every curve. But when I start to feel a bit panicky, I take a few minutes to remind myself that these things will someday be part of my normal. They won’t terrify me any more.

As long as I don’t quit.

If things are hard right now, give yourself some grace. Don’t compare yourself—and your ability to handle whatever is challenging for you—with someone who’s been down this road more times than you have.

And whatever you do—don’t quit.

Are you in a season of firsts? Or can you share an example of a time when you realized something that used to be hard had become easy? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Thoughts on handling challenges as a writer - @LynnHBlackburn (Click to Tweet)

Advice for writers: "As long as we don't quite, we'll make it" - @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. Thank you for reminders and encouragement.

  2. Ms. Lynn; thank you so much for your encouraging words. While I've written professionally for more than 30 years, this journey in faith to write a book on spiritual growth is a new one. Finding my way through the "minefield" of writing and publishing has been a harrowing journey, but with God's help, I am convinced to make it to the end. He keeps putting wonderful people like you and many here in my path to help ease my journey. Thank you for your wonderful encouragement.

  3. They say a black belt is a white belt who never quit. Likewise, a published author is a beginner writer who never quit.
    A very inspiring post, Lynn.

  4. Great post. Lynn my favorite quote ever was for naysayers & excuse makers: "Those who say it can't be done should get out of the way of those doing it." (Think: 4-minute mile broken, Jets winning Super Bowl III, internet, iPhones, etc) That and some prayer changed my whole career and life. I began tackling the very things I was avoiding or dreading most. If there's truly a writer inside of me, I must get out of its way and let it out - do like those who have found a way and are gettin' 'er done. Role models abound. Jay Wright, SC

  5. A writer's life is like their protagonist. With every step forward there is change. Nevertheless, the greatest changes comes after sliding backwards on the trail and like you, changing gears to continue to move forward brings about a mountain top experience of cresting a challenge. Rolling on a novel development trail again and again does bring ease along with confidence. Thank you for your inspiring message today.
    Write on!

  6. Great post, Lynn. As always, you're an inspiration!