3 Lessons From the Mountain Top

Inspiration for writers

I’m in pain! I’ve just arrived home after an overnight hike up this beautiful mountain. The views were incredible and totally worth the pain I’m in right now.

While I was walking, I thought of you, my writing family, quite a bit. I thought about how climbing a mountain is a lot like writing!

Stay with me—it’s not a perfect metaphor, I know, but it works. As a writer, you start at the bottom and it’s a struggle to get anywhere near the top in your career. It feels impossibly hard. But if you stick at it, you reach a point where you’re successful. Then you can sit back and enjoy your hard work!

Here’s my 3 lessons from the top of the mountain for you:

1. Getting started is the hardest

Whenever I start up a mountain, well, I almost don’t. Even the thought of those steep slopes and the burn I’ll feel in my thighs after 6 hours of uphill slog makes me want to snuggle back into my comfy bed and turn on a movie instead. I give myself a ton of excuses too:

“I’m too unfit.”

“The weather doesn’t look great.”

“There’s work to be done around the house.”

“Is that a cold coming on?”

I’ve missed a few good hikes this way. That’s why I’m glad my partner is such a passionate mountain climber. If I commit to a climb, he never lets me “excuse” my way out of it!

As writers, we can come up with a lot of reasons to avoid writing, publishing, or pitching our work. Getting started is the hard part. Find a writing partner or group to give you a little push.

What’s your goal? Maybe this group can give you encouragement? Feel free to share!

2. When you hit the swamp, don’t give up

After you’ve been writing for a while, you get to a place where you feel stuck, uninspired, and your initial enthusiasm is exhausted.

You could call it writer’s block. I like to think of it as “Swamp Time”.

About halfway up the mountain, we hit a long swampy patch. The mud sucked at our boots and made every step tough. The scrub closed in, all spikes and sharp sticks, and grabbed at our clothes. It went on and on like that for a solid hour.

I’ve been writing for over ten years now. There are times where every word is an effort. In those swamp times you need to do two things:

  1. Rest often.

  2. Push through it.

3. It’s not a sprint to the top

When we compare ourselves to other writers, especially those achieving fast success, the pressure increases to reach the top as soon as possible.

My partner can race up cliffs like a mountain goat. I can’t. I take my time, pace myself, stop to rest. I climb the mountain my way. But guess what? In the end we both get to enjoy the same view.

As a writer, it might take you a month to be successful or…it might take years. As long as you keep pushing forward—at your own pace, in your own way—you’ll reach your goals.

People who are able to sprint up mountains are rare. Most of us need to take our time. It’s not a race.

View from halfway up Mount Davy.

Did you achieve any writing goals last year? What were you most proud of? (Send me a link if you like!) What are your writing goals for 2020? I’d love to hear about it.

Writing Scam Alert

Just a heads up—there are a couple of writing scams hanging around. One is emailing fake jobs to Medium writers and another tries to steal your Paypal details. For the PayPal one, the employer asks you to download a zip file (usually something like “writer guidelines”) which is actually a way of stealing your PayPal details. If you hear of others, please let me know. Let’s keep each other safe.

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