Saturday, September 4, 2021

What to Do When Writing is Hard—Conquering the Writer's Mountain

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

It’s funny how writing is so much like going on a hike. We set off with so much enthusiasm and such great intentions. Maybe, we even bought new North Face hiking shoes and a new backpack. We get on the trail, enjoying the smells and sounds of nature as we walk through the woods. Then, as we emerge from a grove of trees, we catch our first sight of the mountain.

And all the enthusiasm just leaks out of us. We notice the blister starting from our new shoes that suddenly seems too tight. And why didn’t someone say something about the bugs.

No matter where you are on your writing journey, you are going to run up against another mountain. Whether it’s getting an idea, finishing your work, finding an agent or publisher, getting through all the edits, marketing, platform… Okay, I’m stopping now. I’m depressing myself.

Like anything that is worth doing, writing is going to have its hard times. There are times it going to take more effort than others. (Parents, can you say two o’clock feedings?) And there are times when you’ll have to decide, is it worth it?

Tips for Conquering the Writer's Mountain

1. You may not have to climb it now.

I’m a big believer in that most of our decisions ought to be answered in pencil. Usually, the question isn’t do it now or never. Maybe the answer is wait. Sometimes we need to take a step back. Maybe you need to get up and walk around the block or take a few days to work on another project.

Sometimes we aren’t ready. Writing is a mixture of art, craft, and perspiration. To do your best work, you have to put the work in first. 

Or, maybe this just isn’t the right time. You may have too much going on in your life right now.

A friend of mine just let us know she isn’t going to a writer’s conference because of her husband’s health. There is only so much that you can do. It is better to recognize the size of your load and stop taking more on before your axle breaks. (The washer overflows? Okay, the metaphor is weak, but you get the point.)

2. You don’t have to travel alone.

It is so ironic that writing is seen as a solitary activity. Yet, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a friend, a mentor, or a peer to help you on your journey. Even if you are quarantined and it’s just you and your laptop, you can still call or text a friend. Writers are such a social bunch. We understand what each other is going through.

And there are so many writers, you can always find a pack who writes similar things as you. If the backpack gets too heavy, reach out to a FaceBook group. Katy Kaufman has a very supportive group for people who write devotions. You can join a writer’s group that meets either in person or virtually. Word Weavers, ACFW, are some great places to start.

When I decided I wanted to write, I didn’t have a clue where to begin. In the local paper, there was a listing for a writers’ group who met on the second Thursday of the month. I went to a meeting and found a group who opened my eyes to this whole new world of Christian writing.

3. You can get better.

You may be in a spot where you feel you don’t know anything. The mountain is too intimidating, and you don’t know where to begin.

And look at those people already halfway up. I’ll never get there.

Everyone starts at the bottom of every mountain. (Unless you were born on the side of the mountain.) And there are lessons you have to learn to be able to climb.

This is when you take the time to work on the craft of writing. That doesn’t mean you have to break into Fort Knox. There are numerous blogs (like this one) that are free. You can find writing books at the library, your neighborhood bookstore (look it up), or Amazon. And many writing groups have classes.

And when you’re ready, you can invest in a conference or a writer’s retreat. Look at it as investing in yourself. You never know what kind of return you’ll get.

4. There’s more than one way to get to the top.

One of the biggest reason a writer gets discouraged is they look at how someone else is doing and they get discouraged. It looks like everything comes so easy for them. It’s like watching a duck bob on the water, seeming to move around so effortlessly. We don’t see how hard its feet are kicking under the water.

I can hear my teacher saying, “Keep your eyes on your own paper.”

We don’t know what the other person is going through or what God has in store for them or you. We do know we have a loving God who has plans designed for each of us. I repeat, designed for each of us. And I’ve heard He knows what He is doing, even without us giving Him advice.

5. You aren’t in this alone.

And piggybacking on God having a unique plan for each of us, no one goes on their journey alone. You may be a new mom who feels stuck at home with the kids, someone taking care of an elderly parent, or you are unable to go out as you like; but you are never alone. The One who created the cosmos sent His Son to tell us that They care for us.

In John 14, Jesus says He will be with us. Since He formed the constellations scientists haven’t discovered yet, I don’t think He will have a problem finding you. Even if you think you are too insignificant for anyone to notice, must less a busy God. He said He cares for the little sparrows.

He even keeps up with the number of hairs on our heads. (Easier for some than others.)

You are so significant that He sent the only thing He couldn’t duplicate, His son, to reveal Himself to us and to die so He can spend eternity with us. He’s even prepared us a room.

I think that makes each of us very special.

So, the next time you feel beaten, the skeeters are getting to you, or the mountain just seems too steep, remember Who is with you. And instead of worrying about the bugs, imagine the view that God has waiting for you at the top.


Tim Suddeth is a stay-at-home dad and butler for his wonderful, adult son with autism. He has written numerous blogs posts, short stories, and three novels waiting for publication. He is a frequent attendee at writers’ conferences, including the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and a member of Word Weavers and ACFW. He lives near Greenville, SC where he shares a house with a bossy Shorky and three too-curious Persians. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at


  1. Tim, I so appreciate your post today. I always - and I mean ALWAYS - run into a wall about 1/3 of the way into my novels. I have 13 published so far and another coming out in a few months and I still run into that HARD place. I've come to the conclusion that I always will. So your post is so very apropos. It's a fact I'll have to live with. But I can't stop writing, so I'll just get used to it and carry on. The nice part is remembering I'm not in it alone. Thanks, my friend!

    1. Yes, I’m hitting the third way through hurdle, too. It makes finishing that much better.
      And I love your writing.

  2. Tim, thank you for the encouraging words. As a new writer, and an old man, when I look up toward the future it seems daunting and unconquerable. Small steps, loving the process and leaving the future to God will be my new mantra.
    Thanks again.

  3. This is an excellent post, Tim---packed with hard truth but also encouragement. I am sure many writers will benefit from reading this! Thank you!

  4. Thank you. I’m going to have to save it, too. I’ll probably need to read it next week.

  5. This was a great post, Tim! I needed to be reminded of the five points you made! I do belong to a very small writer's group and it helps to know they are there when I need them!