Three Dominant Writing Challenges

Before I get into today’s post, I wanted to let you know that I’ve been on a sales promotion blitz for my Casey Holland mystery series. Until August 28th, all six books can be purchased for under $10 (US) The first one, The Opposite of Dark, is free and the next two are $.99 each. You can see all of the books and sale prices on one page at https://tinyurl.com/myhvfzjp These sale prices are also available on other platforms.

Now, all writers who hope to make a living from their work, or to at least supplement their income, face many challenges. For me, those challenges often boil down to three primary things: time, energy, and skill.

Those who need a day job to pay their bills, are raising kids, or caring for aging parents, are all-too familiar with the time challenge. Over the years, I’ve developed strategies, mainly by preparing for the project(s) I intend to work on that week, and minimizing internet and TV time. I’ve also carved out time by giving up exercise or housework. Not a huge sacrifice really, but there’s a price to be paid regarding exercise, which leads me to my second point. Energy.

Even those of you who’ve carved extra time for writing might discover a lack of energy for a variety of reasons. COVID hasn’t helped, especially with mental health issues, but there are other physical health challenges that I’m finding as I age. For instance, I need to nap more often because my brain becomes foggy after 2:30 p.m. Second, I’m dealing with neck and shoulder pain these days, which has flared up off and on for twenty years. Other writers are enduring health issues that drain them of creative energy or even the inclination to sit in front of the keyboard and start working. Grief, stress, loss of income and/or home, and other uncertainties all contribute, as I’m sure many of you know.

Last but not least, is skill. For newer writers, the question often is, can I do this? Will I ever be good enough to write one publishable story? Is there a better use of my time? For more experienced writers, it’s the inability to find an agent or publisher for their finished novel(s) that results in the same questions. For those who’ve been published, self doubt creeps in with lousy reviews, poor sales, or the sinking feeling that you’re not good enough to keep doing this.

I’ve dealt with all of these issues, and more, over the past four decades, and here are two things that have kept me going. First, I still love writing, editing, publishing, selling, and even some of the marketing stuff.

Second, I don’t constantly berate myself over mistakes and disappointments. At the end of every week, I conclude that I did the best I could with whatever time, energy, and skill I have. I’ve used this mantra for years and it’s helped me come to terms with things. If you think it’ll help you on your creative journey, feel free to use it. You deserve to acknowledge your challenges, and you deserve to give yourself a break. The mountain you’re climbing will always be there, you don’t need to break your back, or your spirit, over it.

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired me to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for my my Casey Holland transit security novels. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at dpurdykong@gmail.com

17 thoughts on “Three Dominant Writing Challenges”

  1. Well said. Less easy to cope with!
    I have discovered that grief and stress mean I, and no one else either, can force their writing until those feelings subside sufficiently to unblock one’s creativity. I had to simply wait.
    I also can recognize writers who are forcing it and have on many occasions told them to relax and wait. Thier creativity will return, it always does.

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    1. Thank you, Julie. I know you’ve been through so many difficult challenges on your writing journey, and writers will truly benefit from your experience and guidance.

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  2. Why not treat yourself to a monthly massage? I’ve been going for a good number of years and the benefits are worth the expense. My neck muscles are always tight before I’m due for another session. It’s just a matter of finding the right MRT who suits you. And giving up on exercise? That’s a concern. It’s something we can neglect in our 30s, but not after that.

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    1. Massage is a good idea, Mallee. I’ll look into that. I’ve dropped a little of my exercise routine, now that I’m babysitting Ellie at my daughter’s place. They do have an exercise room, I can use, but I haven’t done so yet. The other 4 days are busy with activity and my routine, but you’re right, I need to do more. I’m not walking enough. Can barely manage a half hour without feeling it!

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  3. Great summary, Debra. That last point–don’t berate yourself–so critical. We all need that reminder. And those oldsters aches and pains, and fatigue, who knew I’d run out of energy when it seemed boundless during my 30’s!

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    1. Thanks, Jacqui. For me, it’s about learning to adapt to body changes and changing priorities, without berating myself over slow-downs or setbacks in productivity and routines. A challenge, I know, but I’m working on it. Glad your rough spot is over!

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  4. It comes down to attitude. You have a very good one. Creative folks are always very hard on themselves. Sometimes we have to say to ourselves, You did just fine!

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  5. Debra, great pointers on how to keep going and particularly on allowing oneself to not become stressed or down if not meetings one’s own targets – that way I find creativity is stifled! You are an inspiration in all you have achieved! Good luck with the promotion!

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