writers / writing

#IWSG How to keep writing when the going gets tough

This post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers. The awesome co-hosts for the June 1 posting of the IWSG are:

SE White, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguire, Joylene Nowell Butler, and Jacqui Murray (that’s me!)

This month’s question — When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

BTW–if you aren’t a member of IWSG, but have thoughts on this question, I’d love to hear them. Just add them in Comments.

I know the answer to this because I’ve been in the middle of it for over four months. Editing has been beating me up, spitting me out, and then laughing. I can’t get it right and I have a feeling I’m re-editing back to what was an earlier draft (hate when I do that).  What have I learned? Here’s the answer:

“If you’re going through hell (which in my case is editing), keep going.”

I didn’t say that first. This guy did:

How about you? How do you get through the rough times?

#iwsg #amwriting


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.


135 thoughts on “#IWSG How to keep writing when the going gets tough

  1. Maybe the earlier draft is the one that works and that’s why the editing is taking you back there. Do you ever hear about musical artists recording the same song dozens of times and then going back to the original one? In any case, you’re right – keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jacqui,

    I’m sorry the editing process is such a hassle this time. Sometimes these things flow and sometimes they don’t. What would help for me is take a long break from it and do something completely different. Going for lots of dog walks to clear your head. 🙂

    For some reason, I haven’t been getting your posts on my inbox. I was just thinking about you (and seeing somewhere you were a co-host for the IWSG blog hop this month) and wondering why I hadn’t heard anything in a while. So, I subscribed to your blogs again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ugh, editing hell. I feel for you, and I also hate it when I feel like I’m undoing my last round of edits or just moving words around in ways that don’t make any real difference. You’re right, though–the way to get through it is to keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing!!.. some days one just has to follow the advice of Rose Milligan, as for me, I just follow my heart… 🙂

    Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
    to paint a picture, or write a letter,
    bake a cake, or plant a seed.
    Ponder the difference between want and need.

    Dust if you must, but there is not much time,
    with rivers to swim and mountains to climb!
    Music to hear, and books to read,
    friends to cherish and life to lead.

    Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
    with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
    a flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
    this day will not come round again.

    Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
    old age will come and it’s not kind.
    And when you go, and go you must,
    you, yourself, will make more dust!
    (Rose Milligan)

    Until we meet again..
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been there, Jacqui and empathize. For me, the solution is to ease up on self-imposed deadlines and do less each day. For example, where I might have spent 2 hours editing one project, I’ll cut that in half (or more) and work on something else that satisfies me. It could be a new project, or a bunch of little things like blogs, reviews, and newsletters. I find that my motivation does return, but the time it takes for that to happen varies.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ha, ha, I’ve heard that song. I agree, keep on going. You’ll get there. Sorry editing is getting you down. I’m just the opposite. With me, editing is the easy part. It’s getting the first draft down that’s hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not sure if anyone mentioned this, but if I’m stuck on a story, I like to shift gears and start another one in a different genre. It seems to loosen the creative bolts and get everything flowing again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When I’m not feeling particularly creative, I often find something else to do for a short time to clear my head. It’s incredible how many times writing ideas come to me in the middle of a walk or on an elliptical machine.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve just started revising the first draft of my novel. As Dorothy Parker once said, “what fresh hell can this be?” 🤣

    Love the video! That song could be my theme song for the last couple of years.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I hire an editor – har har. (Yes, I know, I know, we also have to edit our own work, both before and after we hire someone!) I usually edit iteratively while drafting. Then by the time the draft is done, it’s fairly polished, but of course I am too close to it to see any problems, so it’s beta readers, then editor, then fresh eyes.

    As for how I get through hard times: self-pity.

    Only half kidding.

    By “self-pity” I just mean recognizing that, even though sitting in a chair in front of a computer may look like there should be nothing to it, this IS a process that is difficult, draining, and emotional, and other authors have found it so. So no, you are not being a huge wimp if it is eating your lunch. In the past, I have been helped in this by books by other authors such as The War of Art (I know there are some issues with that book, but I think it has some insights too). I also recognize that anyone trying to create something good is in a spiritual battle. I pray and ask friends to pray.

    Actually, everything I just said about writing also applies to motherhood.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pressfield has written quite a few books on the art of writing. Of course, what works for one doesn’t work for everyone, but if Gates of Fire is an example of what comes out of his method, I’m a fan!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. “Keep going” is the best life advice there is. I always like to keep going except when it comes to writing. In that case the motto becomes “keep finding excuses or distractions not to keep going”. It’s kind of sad in a way, but maybe there is a reason behind it all. Maybe my motto should be something like “keep doing what you’re doing until you have to do something else”?

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

  12. But seriously, if you are reverting to the first draft, maybe it was the better of the two? I’ve thought about this after editing and going back to the original plot.:)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I know what you mean. I usually write through, let it sit for a couple of weeks, then go back and reread it. Sometimes, I’m good with editing on the same document, but other times, I need to open a blank slate and drag things over. It just depends.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great song for the editing process 😉 No harm in taking it slow, though. I read a newspaper headline that had me wondering just how much time (if any) the writer spent editing the piece: “Local Shopmart vandalized by tractor-trailer this morning” May we never run out of strong coffee and sharp editors 😉
    Hang in there, and thanks for co-hosting!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I actually like editing, Jacqui! And when I had a chance to work with Diane (Wolfe), I learned so much. Hell for me is the first completed manuscript, because I find my story through writing my story, and it’s a circular, never linear, path. I loved the Atkins’ song! Thanks for co-hosting to day!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Jacqui, a lot of authors don’t like editing. I like it a lot. Editing means you have finished writing something and that is fabulous. At the moment, I am so busy at work I am not getting a lot of time to write. I have set my novel aside and am writing short stories instead. I feel like I’ve accomplished something if I get a short story written in a couple of weeks, but if I add 2000 words to a novel in 2 weeks I feel like I am getting nowhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I love that song. I used to listed to it every day when I was going through a really bad time.

    Right now, it’s not quite that bad as back then, but I’m struggling, too, lately. I want “normal” back so badly, and I don’t know if we’ll ever get it. It seems like our leaders actually want to keep our world in conflict. Compared to this, writing seems irrelevant. I’m going to give it another whack once I get my acreage fire-safe for the summer, but it’s very much an uphill battle.

    So all this to say–keep plugging away, my writing friend. Our words matter, and they’re worth polishing. Someday, your editing purgatory will end, and you’ll be glad you made it out through the other side. I believe in you–you can do it! : )

    Liked by 2 people

    • The crazier this new version of America gets, the more I want to lose myself in my writing. There are some interesting classes I’d like to take on natural navigation (without any sort of technology) that would apply to my storyline and also make me feel like I was doing something!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Learning something new can be good–there’s something inherently positive about it. I’ve been trying to improve my stargazing abilities this past year, which has something in common with no-tech navigation. I’m looking forward to the Perseid meteor shower this August. : )

        Liked by 2 people

          • That’s an idea. I’ve noticed that over time (months) the angles shift a lot. As a for-instance, in the fall Gemini looks more like a spaceship (turned on its side) and now it looks more like twins, with the stars Castor and Pollux facing up. Casseiopeia can look like a W, an M, or a slightly crooked P. I don’t think it’s a set of skills a person acquires quickly. It may take some time before I have anything particularly helpful to say.

            I may come up with another star story in the interim, though. : )

            Liked by 2 people

  18. Ah editing, my old nemesis. Despite hating it, I find myself constantly doing it as I write. Maybe that’s why I never reach The End.

    Thanks for co-hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I so understand what you’re saying about going around and around during the editing process. It’s a challenge, but you’re right. You just plow through. Thanks for hosting today, Jacqui. Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’ve started jotting the major plot points on a save-the-cat style beat sheet before I start, and that has helped a lot. When it comes to plot roadblocks, I ask ‘what if?’ and keep carrying out different scenarios in my mind until something clicks. Thanks for co-hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I experience writing as cup of creativity. As I write, the cup empties. So I wait. Sometimes I take a walk, do chores or exercise. At the same time I bless the writing project and listen. The story wraps itself around me and fills my creativity cup. With music on Pandora, I sit and allow the words to flow. I trust my process.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. It’s rough, but I tough it out and bulldog on. Sometimes it takes far longer than I would like, but it’s rare for me to toss in the towel.

    I know you’ll get through those edits. I just finished a lengthy round. My work is in the “rest” stage right now, but I plan on tackling it fresh in a few weeks (new eyes and all that 🙂)

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Hi,
    I like editing but it is still a tough one for me. I keep seeing so many ways to style a sentence or whatever. But I persevere. I keep moving forward. I don’t give up. Thank you very much for co-hosting.
    Shalom aleichem

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Thanks for co-hosting with me. I love editing so don’t usually get stuck there. My hard times are with the first draft. I’ve committed to writing for at least 30 minutues four to five days a week, and I’ve found that I make progress. Maybe setting a short goal for your editing till you get back into it would help you. Also, sometimes I put an “X” in a spot in a chapter where I’m stuck and move on. Then I go back to it when I’m in a better space to tackle the problem I’m struggling with, like writing hated descriptions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That ‘short goal’ is so against my nature, Natalie–not to say it wouldn’t be the right move. I’m that person who refuses to quit, regardless.

      I like the X–done that one, too, something that needs more research…


  25. Drafting is the bugbear for me. I’m using the page-a-day method to get through it. My mantra is get through the first draft, and you can start the revising–which is my favorite part of the writing process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OK, had to look up two things from your comment (I love when that happens)–bugbear and page-a-day… BRB

      Bugbear–“A bugbear is a legendary creature or type of hobgoblin comparable to the boogeyman”. Well that fits!

      Page-a-day–exactly what it sounds like.

      You’ve started my day of spectacularly, Liz!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I admire your courage and determination. As I read the IWSG comments, I see the compassion and understanding expressed by folks with similar experiences. Solutions vary widely and it’s exciting when one idea clicks! Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month.
    Lynn @ la-vita.us

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Editing — the bane of writers, Jacqui. Yeah, when you’re sweating through the Valley of Editing, no one wants to stop and admire the scenery! Ten two-letter words rearrange my tail feathers and nudge me forward: if it is to be, it is up to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Yup, I believe it was Winston Churchill who said it first. But it’s a good one and the good ones always get picked up and run with by other people. My sympathies on the editing. I am about to head into that particular hell and that what you speak of (returning to a previous draft) is on the cards in a significant way.

    @DebsDespatches posting today from Fiction Can Be Fun
    Normally found at Debs Despatches

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Hi Jacqui – perseverance … keep going and keep going, perhaps write another aspect and come back to your ‘sticky’ point … go out for a walk for some fresh air and exercise … the year’s half way through – now’s the time to push through. Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Pingback: #IWSG How to keep writing when the going gets tough — – uwerolandgross

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