Top 5 Things to Remember When Writing is REALLY Hard

A guest #WritersTopFive from Karen Lock Kolp (Episode 174)

Hi! I'm Karen. At age 40 I contracted a debilitating tendon disorder, causing my limbs to work differently than most people's.

As a result I cannot type, use a mouse, or even do much swiping, tapping, and scrolling. All my digital work (including this post, which, KJ would like me to note, I formatted as well) is done by voice, using speech recognition software.

In 4 years I've accomplished a lot with my voice!

  • The We Turned Out Okay podcast has 291 episodes and counting

  • I've independently published two books, with two more in the works (and an ever-expanding Future Books File)

  • Each week I write a newsletter to the parents in my email group, which I also publish as a blog post on my website

  • 3 years ago I built an online private coaching community, installed it on my website, and I'm in there every day helping parents take on the challenges that raising young children brings

Reading that back kinda makes my brain melt.

I did that all with my voice. It was not without temper tantrums, that's for sure, and at times it felt like a two-steps-forward, one-step-back arrangement. But I created something I feel proud of.

And if I can do it, anyone can.

If writing is difficult for you, but still something you really want to do, I hope these 5 ideas I've come up with – the ones that saw me through all my challenges and meltdowns – will be helpful for you too!

Top 5 Things to Remember When Writing is REALLY Hard

1. Own it.

How badly do you want this?

Whatever challenges you face, I know you can achieve your goal.

But first, you must own it. You've got to say to yourself "this is what I want to do." You must believe it. Once you do, everything else gets WAY easier.

2. Start super small.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." That quote, by Chinese philosopher Lao Tze, gets me through the toughest days. The days where I feel like I can't possibly accomplish anything.

Just take one step today towards your goal.

No matter how small it is, you are still closer than you were before you took it.

Jess and KJ say all the time "just open the document." If that is your one step today, then so be it.

You're closer than you were yesterday.

3. Celebrate the wins.

Even the tiny ones, those days where the best you could do was one tiny half step forward.

If we don't celebrate the wins, we'll never be satisfied.

Also for me, looking back on achievements makes it easier for me to take on future challenges.

I think of it like "Yay! I did that!" [Deep inhale… Nice, long exhale, appreciating that thing I did.]

Then I'm ready to turn forward and say "Okay. What's next?"

4. Work in projects for good energy management.

I've only got so much energy to commit to my creative work each day.

Putting that positive energy into a single project, and dedicating (most) of my creative time to that project until it is done, is the best way to manage my energy.

I tend to plan in quarters, so for example I'll make the first month in a new quarter all about planning the podcast for that entire quarter. I draft the scripts, make the recordings, and write the show notes for each episode. By the end of that month I have bought myself the next two months' creative time. (Hooray! Celebrating!)

Then, I get to work on a book until the draft is done and it's off to my editor, or it's time to publish. (Woot woot!)

Working in projects like this means that I don't get stuck trying to do too many things at once. It also means that I get to celebrate more often, because I tend to finish projects up more quickly when I am dedicating my time to one project at a time.

5. Try again tomorrow.

If you only adopt one of these, please make it be this one.

Even if today has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (as Alexander says in the children's book by that name), we can always start fresh tomorrow.

This involves forgiving ourselves for not accomplishing everything we wanted to today.

Which is not easy.

But if we can give ourselves this small break, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

Thank you for reading! I hope these are helpful for you as you keep your butt in the chair… even when it's really hard to do.

And if you're raising little kiddos, come say hi at!



Karen Lock Kolp, M.Ed.

The quote I live by:

"The opposite of play is not work. It is depression." – Brian Sutton-Smith

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