Fighting and Overcoming Writer’s Block (and Other Obstacles) from a First-Time Writer

Filed in Ask the Editor by on January 29, 2014 6 Comments

Fighting and Overcoming Writers Block from a First-Time WriterThe thoughts are flowing, the pages are forming, and then all of a sudden — bam! You hit headfirst into writer’s block, along with procrastination, sentence forming issues and the desire to be perfect with every word you write.

Xulon Press knows more than others what it is to be stopped by writing hindrances, as several of our own staff members have struggled, and overcome, these same author issues. Hear two staff members’ stories, Mimie Auxila and Michelle Johnston, describe their own writing experiences and how they surpassed the pitfalls of writing their first book.

1) What are your books about? What type of audience are you trying to reach with your books?

Michelle Johnston (Publishing Consultant): My first book was nonfiction and titled Welcome to Grandparenting. It’s a collection of tips for grandparents and their families involving everything from announcing one’s pregnancy to babysitting to helping raise one’s own grandchild. My audience is not just grandparents, but parents as well, sort of a grandparents’ version of What to Expect When You Are Expecting.

Mimie Auxila (Author Services Representative): My books are fiction; they are stories of ordinary people with ordinary lives dealing with everyday obstacles. My audience is everyone, believers and nonbelievers, as the point is for them to see that everyone, even Christians, have challenges. The difference is how we respond to those challenges.

2) When did you start writing your books and when do you hope to complete them, if not completed?

Mimie: I started writing years ago and because of different life events, the projects were put on the back burner. My fourth project started this past summer and although life gets in the way, I am farther with this book then any of the others. I hope to complete it soon and that will be the motivation to move forward with the others.

Michelle: I published Welcome to Grandparenting in 2009 and later published a Christian version of the same manuscript, with scripture and Christian insight included, with Xulon Press.

3) Did you try to establish a plan for writing before beginning to write? Was it based on what to accomplish each day, or was it weekly or monthly goals?

Michelle: I co-wrote the book with my mother, Rosemary Weis, based on a gift idea I used to let them know they were going to be grandparents. We had brainstorming sessions together, where my mom was the visionary for creating the idea and I was the one supplying/crafting the details. Even if you are writing the book individually, it is good to have a brainstorming session with a close friend who is also a reader to bounce ideas.

Mimie: I am a planner; I plan and schedule everything. I have to set time aside to work on the book, or else it never gets done. Whether it is just doing research or developing a plot, I have to set aside that time or else other things will get in the way. As I am getting closer to my completion goal, I am scheduling more “me” time to work on the book.

4) What types of obstacles have you faced while writing your books? Any recent ones that you are currently dealing with?

Mimie: Writer’s block is a common obstacle that I face. There are times when I sit down to write and although I have the idea in my head, I cannot seem to communicate it. There are times when my current life challenges leave me unmotivated to write. As with my other books, I allowed the mountain in my life to overshadow the book that God placed in my heart to write.

Michelle: Sometimes we only had information enough for one page, so we would have to brainstorm or leave a section alone while we worked on another chapter. Even though our book was a quick read and in big print, we went through four versions. Perfection can really stop people, as you may have too many ideas to combine in one book. Procrastination is another one.

5) What have you done to combat the obstacles you had or are dealing with? What would you suggest as solutions for authors currently writing?

Mimie: Prayer works! A couple of months after I started my current project, my mother died. I did not want to write a word. God turned it around and used my writing to be part of my healing process. Pray it through. When I am stuck and have writer’s block, I usually look at other authors and research their writing styles. For some reason, the ideas start flowing, and it’s like a faucet gets turned on and I’m on a roll!

Michelle: I realized it was okay to have moments where you are unsure. Sometimes writing the back cover copy of the book first will allow you to reacquaint yourself with the book’s theme, background and purpose for the audience. Brainstorming worked for us but also getting the opinion of someone in the audience range you want for your book helps. Listening to that still, small voice of God, combined with your gut feeling, always helps as well. As for procrastination, I even created a two-page guide I send out to some of my authors with tips, such as setting reasonable goals, making a commitment to write and taking one step at a time.

6) Did you ever think you would become a writer? How has writing books changed your approach towards other aspects of your life?

Mimie: I never thought I would be a writer, as I’m not a person who journals. However, I do like writing stories, and each of my stories has a piece of me in them. I believe that once I complete my book, it will give me relief and a sense of accomplishment. My goal is to put in writing the thoughts and dreams in my heart in the hopes of inspiring at least one person.

Michelle: I always loved editing, as I edited my mother’s books when I was a teen. It was hard to separate being a writer from being an editor, but I enjoyed writing the book with my mother. I already have my eye on writing a motivating book for single mothers as well as my 109 reason series for being more financially savvy when shopping and becoming a better student. One book will always lead to a second book.


About the Author ()

Blair Townley joined the Xulon Press family as a Staff Editor in May 2013, helping first-time authors prepare their treasured manuscripts for publication. Prior to Xulon Press, she previously worked as a staff writer/editor for several Central Florida-based magazines over the past decade. What Blair enjoys most about writing and editing is getting to help others share their stories, helping others see themselves as the unique individuals God created them to be.

Comments (6)

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  1. avatar Sondra Largent says:


    Thank you for sending me this article. I so needed it as I have procrastinated on Book 3 and 4. I want to re-edit Book 2. The perfectionist in me is strong. This article really helped me.

    • Thank your for reading Mimie and Michelle’s interviews, Sondra, and we all three hope that you gained some guidance and inspiration to get your books ready for print. We look forward to reading and publishing your books in the future! God Bless.

  2. avatar Naomi Bazuaye says:

    Great article! I needed to see this. Thanks guys. The interviews provided me with solutions. This is divine!

    • Thank you, Naomi, for your enjoyment in the article. These two talented ladies definitely know it feels like to be faced with writer’s block, and hope that their suggestions will help others power through those typical setbacks. We look forward to seeing and publishing your book soon. God Bless.

  3. avatar Linda Beem says:

    Thank you for sharing this article it was encouraging to me, (first book, 10,000 words in). I’m going to try writting the, “back cover copy” suggestion and see if that will push my reset button.

    • We are so glad to hear that the article was encouraging to you with writing your book. Wow, 10,000 words in is quite an accomplishment! Continue on with this motivating push to finish, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of your writing labor very soon. God Bless.

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