Facing Down Obstacles

This writing journey is, for many of us, a challenge. There are so many obstacles to doing what we believe God has asked us to do through our writing. Everyday distractions, family issues, illness, grief, and on and on the list goes. Things that we can’t control come charging in to derail our work and efforts. So what can we do about it?

Here’s one thing—in fact, I believe it’s the most important thing of all–we can hit back at distractions and obstacles with Truth. God’s truth. So over the next several weeks, I’m going to God’s responses to the seven most common obstacles many of us face:

  1. Being too busy
  2. Weariness and Fatigue
  3. Fear
  4. Discouragement
  5. Lies
  6. Jealousy and Comparison
  7. Worry and Anxiety

First, though, because I want to be sure I’m helping you as best I can, let me ask you…are there other obstacles besides these seven that you face on this writing journey? Struggles you need to face down with God’s Truth?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


66 Responses to Facing Down Obstacles

  1. Avatar
    Ruth Anne Blanchard March 15, 2017 at 3:59 am #

    You’ve hit them all. Everything I can think of falls into one of these categories. I tried to put them in order, greatest to least, but that’s ever changing. I love the craft, but the challenge can be overwhelming. I’m looking forward to your posts on these topics.

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      Amanda Cleary Eastep March 15, 2017 at 6:00 am #

      Doubt, which is closely related to a couple of the items you list… I’ve been writing professionally for more than 25 years and have always felt called to the vocation. When I’m pouring my time and heart into blogging or writing a book (rather than client work), however, I often wonder to what purpose. Margarat Atwood says “a word after a word after a word is power.” I think it’s also obedience to God.

      • Avatar
        Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:20 am #

        Amanda, that’s a powerful one. And doubt on so many levels: self-doubt, doubt that God really gave us the task, doubt that obeying will accomplish anything…

        I was going to deal with it in the Lies section, but I think it deserves its own blog. Thanks!

        • Avatar
          Amanda Cleary Eastep March 15, 2017 at 11:55 am #

          Every single one of those, yes. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on all of the obstacles. And a huge THANK YOU for the time you’re taking to write about them.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:18 am #

      Thanks so much, Ruth Anne. And I agree, I tried to prioritize them, but that’s entirely subjective, and, as you said, it always shifts. So I’m just going with the flow.

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    Frank Ball March 15, 2017 at 5:44 am #

    Too many choices. Needing God’s direction.

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      karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:20 am #

      Thanks, Frank.

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      Henry Styron March 15, 2017 at 11:49 am #

      Exactly what Frank said. That’s my single biggest challenge–needing discernment to focus on what God is calling me to do.

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    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser March 15, 2017 at 6:05 am #

    How about pride, coming in the guise of perfectionism, or in regard to being hesitant to bare one’s soul on the printed page because it may reveal one as merely human?

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      Robyn Hook March 15, 2017 at 6:25 am #

      Pride is a big one. Especially for new writers who haven’t learned to accept criticism. It can keep a person from learning and growing in the craft.

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      Rebekah Dorris March 15, 2017 at 8:15 am #

      Boom. I was thinking the reluctance to bare my soul and share my words was discouragement or fear, but you’re right, Andrew. It’s pride. So I’d definitely love a post on that!

      Thanks for asking, Karen! 🙂

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:21 am #

      Ooo, another good one. Thanks!

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    Jennifer Hallmark March 15, 2017 at 6:46 am #

    Procrastination. The thought that I can just do it tomorrow.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:22 am #

      This is great! I’ll have blog posts into 2019!

      Ahem…I mean, wow. So sorry we all deal with so much struggle.

      Thanks, Jennifer.

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    David Winters March 15, 2017 at 7:05 am #

    It is probably easily covered in one of the seven, but Ibwould include money. With self-publishing, the thought occurs that without money to publish, promote, etc., why write?

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:23 am #

      Interesting thought, David. I’ll ponder that one. Thanks!

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    Carol Ashby March 15, 2017 at 7:27 am #

    Losing focus on our source of inspiration. Some (not you, Karen) urge almost slavish attention to commercial potential. Obviously, an author must consider the market, but how many struggle to write the book they think will sell even when it isn’t the book God is leading them to write?

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:25 am #

      Actually, you’ve hit on the core of the answers to these obstacles! Well done, Carol. And stay tuned!

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      Amanda Cleary Eastep March 15, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

      I, too, am trying to balance these things–writing what I feel led to write (with prayer, counsel, etc.) but within the context of being at least aware of the market.

  7. Avatar
    sherri stewart March 15, 2017 at 7:33 am #

    The writing journey involves marketing, and if one writes for a small publisher, we have to pay to market our books. I would add the lack of money to the list.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:26 am #

      Hmmm, this is the second vote for a lack of money. I’ll have to think and pray on this one, asking God to show me the core of the obstacle. Thanks, Sherri.

      • Avatar
        Amanda Cleary Eastep March 15, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

        For me, the core of this one is fear. I’m a full-time freelance writer, and it’s “easy” to spend time writing when I know the work will pay the mortgage.

  8. Avatar
    Glenda March 15, 2017 at 7:57 am #

    Karen-The seven obstacles on your list rotate in my writing life. Can’t wait to read the Scriptures you’re going to share.


    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:29 am #

      Yes, mine, too. And, from what I hear from writers, almost every deals with them from time to time. Erin Taylor Young and I just taught an hour-long workshop on this at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, and we saw so clearly how these things derail those God has asked to write. And how powerful God’s own words are in the face of these things!

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    Joey Rudder March 15, 2017 at 8:19 am #

    All of the above! I also struggle with guilt. If I’m writing, I feel guilty that I’m not doing what I should be as a wife and Mom. If I spend more time doing things around the house to take care of them, I feel guilty for not spending enough time writing. Ugh.

    I’m really looking forward to reading your posts, Karen. Thank you!

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:30 am #

      You’re welcome, Joey. That guilt is one of the enemy’s most effective tools against God’s people because it’s false guilt. I’d explain that, but then I’d give away that blog post. So stay tuned. It’s one of the main lies we’ll deal with.

      • Avatar
        Joey Rudder March 15, 2017 at 11:11 am #

        I’m definitely looking forward to it! 🙂

  10. Avatar
    Judi March 15, 2017 at 8:31 am #

    Guilt. I work 9-10 hour days at my job, and when I’m off, it’s hard to say, “See ya, Honey. I need to go hole up in my office and write now.”

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:31 am #

      Judi, see my response to Joey. 🙂 And stay tuned.

  11. Avatar
    Marianne March 15, 2017 at 8:41 am #

    As a newbie, I struggle with everything you have listed. I also feel such uncertainty about all of the unknowns ahead. Yet, I’m still looking forward. ?

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:31 am #

      Keep on looking forward, Marianne. That’s a wonderful tool, and it’s great you’ve learned it early in your journey.

  12. Avatar
    SANDRA D REVELLE March 15, 2017 at 8:55 am #


    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:32 am #

      So much contained in a single word. Thanks.

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    Dee Kincade March 15, 2017 at 9:17 am #

    Health issues. I have fibromyalgia which causes forgetfulness, a foggy brain, exhaustion, and pain.

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    Kirsten Panachyda March 15, 2017 at 9:53 am #

    I agree re: doubt. Is this work meaningful? Does it make any difference at all? Did God really purpose for me to spend my hours this way? Will He do something eternally significant with this?

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      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:33 am #

      Ah, Kirsten. Understandable–and all-too-common–doubts. We’ll wrestle ’em to the ground. Or, more to the point, God will.

    • Avatar
      Amanda Cleary Eastep March 15, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

      Exact questions that have run through my mind, especially as I work on fiction.

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    Effie-Alean Gross March 15, 2017 at 9:55 am #

    You named the obstacles that crop up every day. For me, I’m learning to listen to that quiet voice urging me to take the next step in my writing profession. So, I believe another obstacle is “self talk,” or debating with God. I’m acting on God’s direction more now…following through by faith. Thank you so much for the post, reminding writers that we can overcome. ~~Effie-Alean Gross

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:35 am #

      Effie-Alean, you’re welcome. I’m looking forward to seeing how God speaks into all these things. And the best benefit for me in doing these blogs is that I get to pore over Scripture and seek God’s answers. How cool is that?

  16. Avatar
    Janetta March 15, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    Procrastination is a biggie for me. Also my desire to get to the next level of Panda Pop. 🙂 Seriously, all the ones on your list can describe my writing life.

  17. Avatar
    Diane T. Ashley March 15, 2017 at 10:35 am #

    Change is a biggie for me. I like stability but that’s not always what we get in life. Death of a loved one, moving to a new location, loss of critique partners and close friends. All those things have happened to me in the past couple of years and have made it harder for me to write. Thanks for your help, Karen. Your blogs are insightful and thought-provoking.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 16, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

      Thanks, Diane. Change is a good thought.

  18. Avatar
    Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:36 am #

    Thanks, Janetta. Though I’m pretty sure I won’t find Panda Pop in the concordence. Then again…who knows?

  19. Avatar
    Linda March 15, 2017 at 10:40 am #

    I agree all of these are core problems to making progress. Lack of focus is a problem for me but some of that may stem from one of those areas or a combination of them. To write for years in obscurity wondering if God has a purpose in it leads to bouts of discouragement. Not having funds for conferences and payment for an editor leads to more discouragement. So I’d say that’s the biggest one for me. I am eager to hear ways to battle that one.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 15, 2017 at 10:42 am #

      You got it, Linda! Thanks for being transparent.

  20. Avatar
    Janet Ann Collins March 15, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    Health problems and family emergencies.

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    Yolanda March 15, 2017 at 11:13 am #

    Technical difficulties! THey are the bane of my existence!

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 16, 2017 at 4:43 pm #

      Oh, amen! I think those fall under the whole interruptions/distractions topic.

  22. Avatar
    M K Simonds March 15, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

    So many responses! You definitely struck a chord, ma’am. From all I’ve read, these obstacles aren’t peculiar to Christian writers; they are obstacles to all writers. Yet I can’t help believing that we must be a peculiar subset of writers because we are a peculiar people.

    For me, I struggle most chronically against jealousy and comparison and discouragement. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. More than distractions, lack of time, fear, or fatigue, those particular obstacles are the worst impediments to me focusing my creative energy and effort on writing what I feel the Lord has for me to write, rather than writing what I think will sell or be praised by the literary community.

    Only God knows the long game, and He always seems to be playing the long game. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

    Thank you, Karen, for starting this series. As you can clearly see, it helps us to be reminded that the temptations we face aren’t ours alone. They are common to all writers.

    God bless you and everyone here who’s trying so earnestly to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.

  23. Avatar
    Martha Whiteman Rogers March 15, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

    In my many years of writing, I’ve faced all of those, and most don’t bother me anymore. Health and not being able to write when I wanted to led to great frustration. When I was battling cancer, it was all I could do to get out of bed some days, but the stories and ideas still danced in my head. Not sure where frustration would come in the list, if it should be a new one.

    Impatience might be another one. Our impatience can be an obstacle in waiting for God’s timing, waiting on replies from editors or agents, waiting for sales to go up while we spend money on promotion.

    I’m a procrastinator as well, so that would be a good one to add as mentioned by others.

  24. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee March 15, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

    Karen, I think you have hit them all- sometimes we are too busy but it is for the right reason, such as caring for our children, but it still boils down to being too busy…..

  25. Avatar
    Mary Albers Felkins March 15, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

    I allow myself to become “distracted”, believing that if I just clean this bathroom or straighten up the kitchen or empty out the inbox or peruse social media for a ‘sec’…I’ll have a clearer head to write. What, in fact, is really happening is that I’ve allowed the demon of distraction to re-direct God’s intentions for me to be disciplined. The goal is to be in God’s word, meditate on it, pray thoroughly and then put all creative energies into the first part of my day. After I’ve given my best with that, then the other activities can be addressed. Also deal with fear of success. What if I really do have what it takes??

  26. Avatar
    Peggy Booher March 15, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

    Thanks for your willingness to tackle these. I’m eager to hear God’s answers.

    My case is probably unusual in that I quit my job due to physical/emotional issues. I have a lot of time to write, but I do need to look for another job. When I get another job, that’s going to rearrange everything else–time for writing, working around the house, etc. I have a lot of unknowns right now.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 16, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

      The unknown is definitely an obstacle.

  27. Avatar
    Patti Iverson March 15, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

    I have NO reasons, NO excuses–yet I’m pretty darn good at using all of the above, and then some. And I even say, “I just don’t want to write!” When deep inside I’m fairly certain I truly do. Oh Well!!!! You and the Rogue Riters ‘n Yadas have been with me for so many years and know me well—it just doesn’t matter because it’s all about timing. Since I am all about God’s timing, it’s good. And that’s okay. Eh?

  28. Avatar
    Judith Robl March 15, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

    I’m sure it will be covered under too busy, but interruptions are my big bugaboo.

    My family has no concept that when I’m writing, I do not want to be interrupted unless the bleeding will not stop or the bone is protruding through the flesh.

    Early on, I found myself between 9-5 jobs and told friend-husband I wanted to be a writer. He was totally supportive. So back in the day, I’d get the children to bed; friend-husband would be getting ready for bed; and I’d drag the card table to the living room, bring out the Smith-Corona, and start writing.

    Within 15 minutes, friend-husband would be looking over my shoulder. “Are you about done?” or “What are you writing?”

    It took about two weeks before I figured out that this wasn’t working at all.

    It’s better, now, but I still get the interruptions – about every 15 to 30 minutes.

    • Avatar
      Karen Ball March 16, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

      Good gravy. Why do our sweet hubbies do those kinds of things??

  29. Avatar
    Dineen Miller March 16, 2017 at 9:48 am #

    Really looking forward to this series, Karen. 🙂

  30. Avatar
    Janet Ann Collins March 16, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    Discouragement if things you’ve submitted didn’t sell.

  31. Avatar
    Damon J. Gray March 17, 2017 at 10:07 pm #

    Well, this will prove to be an interesting series!

  32. Avatar
    Elena Corey March 21, 2017 at 9:56 am #

    Thanks hugely for this line of thought and for understanding.
    For me, it seems several of the causes intertwine and form a strong enough rope that I am discouraged from trying to unravel or cut it, so discouragement seems to win. Then I pray and try to resume trusting, and try once again.

    Elena Corey

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