Saturday, July 9, 2022

Straight Talk: Being a Writer is Stressful

by Beth K. Vogt @BethVogt

Does writing ever stress you out?

I typed that question, sat back, and tried to imagine people’s various responses. 

Does writing ever stress me out? 

Are you kidding, Beth? Do you know how difficult it is to find time to write when I work a fulltime job?

I’m staring down a deadline that’s three weeks away—and I still don’t know how this book ends!

You can’t begin to imagine the daily struggles I face with a chronic illness. My dreams of publication seem further and further away. Some days I just want to give up. 

Every writer I know, no matter how much they love writing, gets stressed out by writing.

The mental anxiety is unavoidable. 


The easy answer: Life.

Here’s another answer: Competing values. 

Does that term sound familiar? Competing values is a fiction technique used to develop tension in novels. Example: We determine our heroine values both her small-town roots and the love of a man who travels the world. Then we force her to choose between the two. Doing so causes tension because no one likes to choose between two things that are equally important to them. 

We have personal values in real life too—what we judge is important in our life. Values can include:
  • Courage
  • Kindness
  • Honor
  • Perseverance
  • Success
  • Wealth
  • Health

Let’s circle back to writing being stressful, shall we?

As creatives who express our giftedness through words, it’s obvious we value writing. Just go ahead and put “writing” on a mental list of personal values. Here’s another question for you:

What else would you add to your list of personal values? What else is important to you? Family? Your “real” job? Church? Volunteering? Caregiving? Exercise?

When we’re forced to choose between writing and (fill in the blank with one of those other things you judge is important in your life), that’s when stress ramps up. The reason we have to choose? We only have so much time in our day, money in the bank, mental and physical energy to expend.

Do I have an answer to resolve this tension?


This is more of a reality check kind of blog post. 

We all value more than one thing. We are creatives who reflect God to the world through our words. We also value other things (and people) and use the gifts God has given us in those facets of our life too. 

Sometimes we juggle writing and everything else. 

That’s stressful.

Sometimes we temporarily pause some things—like meeting friends for coffee or exercising like we need too—while we write. Or we pause writing while we do the other stuff—like facing a health crisis or adjusting to being a newlywed.

Also stressful.

We will always face choices between competing values, day in and day out. Let’s also remember to ask God to guide us as we make our choices and to weave His lavish grace through it all.

Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Having authored nine contemporary romance novels and novellas, The Best We’ve Been, the final book in Beth’s Thatcher Sisters Series with Tyndale House Publishers, releasers May 2020. Other books in the women’s fiction series include Things I Never Told You, which won the 2019 AWSA Award for Contemporary Novel of the Year, and Moments We Forget. Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RITA® finalist. An established magazine writer and former editor of the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth blogs for Learn How to Write a Novel and The Write Conversation and also enjoys speaking to writers group and mentoring other writers. Visit Beth at


  1. Facing a deadline in three weeks this spoke directly to me!

  2. Thank you for your thought-provoking post, Beth. And thank you for giving us the answer to the dilemma: " . . . ask God to guide us as we make our choices."

  3. MaryAnn: There was an answer to dealing with writer's stress tucked away in this blog post, wasn't there? The stress will always exist, but trusting God to guide us through the maze of competing values definitely provides peace.

    1. Like that answer, trusting God

  4. Thanks for the perspective, Beth. : )
    2021 favorite quote that addresses this: "My imagination is bigger than my calendar." Jon Acuff
    2022 favorite quote to date: "Vision must be seen through the excess of clutter. Get rid of the clutter." Jesse Duplantis

    1. Thanks for sharing both of these quotes. They are both excellent and applicable.

    2. Love that 2021 quote!

  5. “Values”—I love that word you use. Much better—and more accurate—than “distractions.” Thanks for that new perspective!

  6. Agreed, Robin. Perspective changes everything, doesn't it? Battling distractions is so frustrating. Understanding I'm dealing with my values helps with the tension some.

    1. Yes, like the idea of shifting from "distractions" to "values" - except then the blame also shifts

  7. Thank you for these words. This is definitely something I struggle with. Maybe one I can accept these battles as a part of life and focus on doing better when possible.