Thursday, November 7, 2019

Move Past Writing Obstacles with These Tips

by Lynn H Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

My family and I recently spent a lovely week on the Emerald Coast of Florida. The white sandy beaches of the panhandle are beautiful and the water is clear—a big plus for me because I love playing in the water, but I don’t love wondering what’s swimming with me! 

My favorite way to enjoy the beach is to make my way past the breaking waves and settle into the relaxing swells that can be found just a bit further out from the shore. 

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of effort to get past the breakers. On our first day of vacation, the wind was blowing and the waves were crashing into the shoreline. Every step was a struggle and many times I felt like I was walking in place, making no progress toward my goal. More than once, a wave caught me and slammed me to the ground. I wound up with a few bruises and a skinned knee to show for my efforts. 

But eventually, I reached the goal. I could bob and bounce in the swells and, while it still involved effort, it wasn’t overwhelming or exhausting. Sometimes a big wave would catch me off guard and crash over me but, for the most part, my head stayed above water and I enjoyed being out there doing something I loved.

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

As writers, we can’t avoid the breakers. 

Every time we begin a new series, a new novel, a new project of any kind, the intensity of the resistance is off the charts. We stumble around through the first few chapters. We write ourselves into holes and have to start over. We start plot threads that we completely forget about. We change characters names in mid-scene. Let’s not even get started on how many times we have to go back and look to see what color the hero’s eyes are or how long the heroine’s hair was on page three. And could we have a moment of silence for how often we create eight-day weeks or twenty-seven hour days? 

This is the point where a lot of people make one of two critical mistakes:

1. They quit. 

They conclude that because it is so hard, they must be doing something wrong. They think they aren’t cut out for writing and they don’t want to go through this just to scribble out a few words. 

The reality is that they weren’t do anything wrong at all. They just quit too soon. They gave up and trudged back to the sandy shore before they realized what joy and delight they would find in the deeper swells. 

2. They fight the breakers every time they write. 

Now hear me out on this: I’m not someone who says you have to write every day to be a real writer. But it has been my painful experience to learn that it’s really in your best interest to tough it out through the beginning breakers and once you get into the swells? Stay there! Don’t take a month or two off thinking that now you’ve got it all figured out and it will be smooth sailing. Um . . .no. If you don’t come back to the story on a regular basis, you’ll discover that you have to fight your way through the breakers every time. It’s exhausting and demoralizing to have to do that much work to get the story moving again. 

If you’re in need of a little push to help you power your way through the beginning breakers, November is a great month. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is happening right now and it’s not too late for you to jump in. Writers from all over the world are hanging out in person or online and encouraging each other to write 50K words by November 30th. Even if you don’t “win,” the simple act of participating and pushing yourself to write consistently and in higher volumes than you normally do could be just what you need to get you to a place where you look forward to your writing, rather than dreading it. 

I’m doing NaNo this year. You can find me @LynnHB in the NaNoWriMo buddy listings. I’d love to cheer you on! 

Grace and peace,

Move Past Writing Obstacles with These Tips from @LynnHBlackburn on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy—but her grown-up reality is that she's a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations—while she's sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Her Dive Team Investigations series kicked off in 2018 with Beneath the Surface and In Too Deep (A SIBA Okra pick and Selah Award Finalist). The 3rd book in the series, One Final Breath, releases in September 2019. She is also the author of Hidden Legacyand Covert Justice,which won the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel and the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at and on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.


  1. Obstacles are part of life. How we deal with those obstacles can make us a good writer or not. :-) When I am faced with obstacles of any kind, I go to God in prayer and ask for His guidance.

  2. Thanks for the voice of experience - it IS encouraging to hear this information and realize it’s normal. Great use of clear title and breaking wave picture to match your example. :)

  3. Thank you, Lynn. I needed that. ��

  4. Yes, been there. I am an engineer by training, and I find that the same discipline that lets me go on with difficult jobs works for writing as well. Thanks for a great article.