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When a Writer Hits a Wall

By Joanna Davidson Politano

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~Ernest Hemmingway

Writers often find we cannot escape the lure of creating stories, yet it’s both freeing and frustrating, isn’t it? It’s a voluntary invasion of privacy, a big emotional investment, and it’s never as easy as it seemed before you tried it.

Especially when you hit that wall. Do you have a word count that always catches you? I seem to be stuck at each 20,000 word increment—especially at 60,000. Why does it have to be so hard? If we’re meant to do this, why don’t the words flow? Aren’t we being obedient to God, doing what He’s asked, writing for Him and about Him?

Let me suggest something. Maybe the difficulty, the very wall itself, is your gold-embossed, personally addressed invitation. Think of hitting a wall in a maze—what do you do? Turn right or left. You still have plenty of options, you simply can’t go straight anymore. So what if your “wall” is actually an indication to make a turn—an opportunity to break away from “good” and pursue something better?

Another suggestion—and please hear this one most of all. Perhaps it’s an invitation from God Himself. You may struggle with a roadblock or discouragement because God really, really wants to invite you to pursue not just another story idea or direction, but Him. He wants to gently make it clear to you that you can’t do this alone, and He’s longing for you to go after and connect with Him. He’s the ultimate creative, the one with the best ideas. We can always study craft and put together great stories with wonderful messages, but let me tell you, nothing beats what God can do with a story.

With my second published book, I was on my face on my living room floor talking to him a lot. A whole lot. The story didn’t come naturally and I really struggled to untangle it while on a publisher’s deadline—all of which was an invitation into dependence. To the end of self-reliance and striving. To turn toward God instead of continuing forward on my own. Every “wall” in my story drove me to try to understand what God was doing with the story, to talk openly with Him about it, and to ask often for His help.

That difficult writing time resulted in a completed book, yes, but the weight of its difficulty also broke through my self-reliance and built up a wonderfully strong connection with God. It was a trust-fall into God that shifted my heart into a pattern of trust throughout my daily life.

Let me tell you, the choppy waters of publication and marketing and reviews will make you want to grab on tighter to that rope of striving and control, and maybe you do for a while. But eventually your hand will ache and you’ll be forced to let go. And only then will you fall back directly into God and find a million times more strength than all your best efforts.

So I challenge you to stare that wall down and turn to the right or the left, wherever God is, and chase after Him. Let that roadblock in your writing turn you away from “good writing” and into an amazing adventure with the grandest creator and father in existence. When you’re stuck, grab hold of that invitation. You’re about to be less stuck than you’ve ever been in your life.

Joanna Davidson Politano loves spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details of ordinary lives. Her debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, released October 3 from Revell and A Rumored Fortune releases in July 2018. She lives with her family on the shores of Lake Michigan and blogs at

This entry was posted in Advice, Authors and writing, Encouragement, Friends of ACFW, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to When a Writer Hits a Wall

  1. JPC Allen says:

    Thank you for the advice. I just checked out “Lady Jayne Disappears” and look forward to diving into it!

  2. Janyre Tromp says:

    Man do I ever hear you! I’m facing a wall right now and I’m struggling through it. I have a friend who says that when you hit the biggest point of resistance, you also have the biggest opportunity. I’m banking on that 🙂 I’ve heard great things about Lady Jayne Disappears. It’s on my Christmas list.

  3. Janet Ferguson says:

    Great post!

  4. Oh, my friend. THANK YOU for these wise words. WOW. I needed to read this. ??

  5. Wonderful post! I’m enjoying Lady Jayne Disappears 🙂 On chapter 9!

  6. Stacey L Zink says:

    Excellent post! I’m living this right now but trusting God to make this story even better than I can imagine. I’m trusting Him!

  7. Kelly Scott says:

    Thank you for encouraging us to take our writing back to God!

  8. Writing has definitely made me dependent on God. There is no way I could write a book without His guidance!

    I’ve been thinking about making my email tag line: I asked God to show me how to depend on Him and He gave me a book to write.