Writing Hurdles

Everyone I know, who writes, comes up against challenges that leave them speechless.  The dreaded blank page affects everyone at some point.  Here are a few hurdles I have come up against, add yours in comments.

What should I write about?hurdles

Of course we’ve all heard that one should “write what you know,” but that just narrows the field by a million ideas.  Nevertheless, it helps to think about your strengths.  I’m a physician so  can write about medical topics.  I love to play music, so I can expound about the trombone.  I’m an author and I love to write, so writing about the process of writing is always a possibility.  I want to stay true to the focus of my blog, which is to bring readers and writers together.  This narrows my idea list, at least for this blog.

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A wise person taught me that, if I expect anyone to read my words they have to be meaningful to the reader.  Don’t just throw out your ideas, think about questions your readers may have, then answer them.  It isn’t too difficult to come up with a few potential questions.  Pick the best one and try to answer it.  This starts the “ink” flowing.

Life is busy, I never have time to write.

Many of us “Indie” authors do not write for our livelihood (though we wish we could).  We have a primary, wage-earning job.  We have families with whom we should be spending time.  Exercise should make up a portion of our day and eating and sleeping.  When do we find time to write?  As a physician I often hear that same question about exercise.  “I’m too busy doc.  When can I find time to exercise?”  My answer to authors is the same as to my patients, “schedule” it in.  Make your writing part of your day, not an add-on.  For my patients exercising 30 minutes a day can be life-changing.  Scheduling time for writing every day could change your productivity.  Find the time when your brain is most active and free of “clutter.”  For me that is about 5 to 5:30 AM.  For others it is late at night.  If you can find 30 minutes of dedicated time to write you can fill pages with your thoughts.  Writing then becomes a joy, something to look forward to.

The writing process itself can be a hurdle

Our knowledge of grammar, punctuation, character development, plot development, and many other areas of writing can always be improved.  Knowing our audience and being faithful to the genre we have chosen are critical features of our writing.  Even best-selling authors say they struggle in each of these areas.  Having critical readers and editors can help once a manuscript is finished, but we bear the weight of writing that piece from beginning to end in our own unique style.

Who am I to blog about this?

This hurdle gets into the psyche a bit.  Who is truly an expert in a subject?  For some things I want an expert opinion.  If my patient has a broken bone I want an orthopedic surgeon, not a neurologist, to deal with it.  If you have no idea about a subject, either research it thoroughly or leave it alone.  Your best writing will come from things you already know, but don’t be afraid to step out and work hard on something new.  Just be careful to be as accurate as possible, and if you are expressing an opinion, just say so.


I have met many authors who have started their novels.  I recall several who began their novels years ago and have still never finished.  How many times have you started a novel?  It is easy to get bogged down with details as you go.  If you try to do too much polishing as you write you may find that you never finish.  You probably know how you want the story to end, but sometimes we get bogged down somewhere in the middle.  It is important to have the novel connect all the way through, but let the words flow and “tighten” it up once you are finished.  Constant rewriting, before the masterpiece is finished can lead to dead ends and discouragement. Hurdles accomplished

Just as in a race, if a hurdler hits the hurdle they can continue to run.  It may slow them down, but they are not out.  Keep going, finish, take it in stride and you will accomplish what you started.

This is definitely a short list of common hurdles I have encountered and have discussed with other authors.  I would love to hear from you. Photo Credit

What has been your worst hurdle to writing?  Please feel free to comment and share with other readers.

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About smcpherson58

Aside from loving chocolate and coffee (not necessarily in that order) Scott McPherson has learned that he loves to write. He writes fiction and, so far, has published two novels. Scott has many varied interests, though he tries to focus on one at a time. He has worked for nearly thirty-five years as a family physician, a pass-time that gives him great pleasure and pays the bills. He has five daughters and dotes upon three grandchildren. Recently married, he really loves life. Scott writes from his life experiences and from travel. His career in the active Air Force was brief, but he has been a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard since just before 9/11 in 2001. The aftermath of that great disaster changed the face of the Guard and led to missions in far-away lands. He has spent time in Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Crete and Guam in missions related to support for Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has been to Iceland and Antarctica as well. Scott has no personal experience with violent death or murder, but has gained knowledge from experts. In his first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death,” his character, Jack Sharp MD, becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. First as suspect, then as amateur sleuth, Jack tries to make a difference. He finds himself right in the middle of an investigation well beyond the scope of a local murder. A man of faith, Scott traveled to Africa with his small family in the 1980s and served as a medical missionary in Zaire (known as Congo today) with a church organization. The vast difference in what it takes to exist in such an environment served as a basis for much of his second novel, a thriller, “Congo Mission.” His character, Jack, is twenty years younger than in the first novel. In “Congo Mission” Jack serves as a physician in a missionary hospital in the jungles of northwestern Zaire. There he is not only captivated by a young woman visiting the region, but falls victim to his nemesis Jacques Levant. His motivations and faith are tested and his resolve to do God’s work gets pushed to the limit. When he is not writing Scott enjoys walking, a practice that actually led to his first attempt at writing a novel. He began making notes and writing prose about the mundane things around him. He tried to make the details sound interesting, even though it was just for his own pleasure. Eventually he found that he could expand his prose to “what if?” “What if I just kept walking?” “What if I, or my character, found a dead body in the ditch along the side of the path?” That was the premise for the first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death.” Scott McPherson is an avid trombone player and has played since he was nine years old. He marched in the Cornhusker Marching Band at the University of Nebraska and now takes advantage of one free football game a year by playing in the half-time show with the UNL Alumni Marching Band. He plays in the Lincoln Civic Orchestra and a community band from the nearby town of Waverly, Nebraska. Scott loves to sing as well, though his range seems to have diminished in recent years. He has sung in college and church choirs and remembers performing parts of Handel’s Messiah as a highlight of his singing experience. One little-known fact about Scott is that he once sang soprano in a boys choir. Scott plans to keep writing as long as the ideas flow and others show interest in his stories. He loves to interact with other writers or readers about what has become a passion in his life. Reviews are always welcome as are questions and comments.
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