Valleys in the writing journey by Sue Irving

When I was asked to be a regular contributor to the ACW blog, I was really excited. Projects keep me focussed and motivated, and I had been feeling directionless since our book was published.

Writing the book had been a tough climb, taking almost double the time I had initially expected. It included detours and dead ends and moments when I swore that I would never pick up the pen again. Then came the moment when I could look back on the journey from the peak, and all the sweat and tears along the way seemed worthwhile.

I was not looking for another mountain to climb. I was happy to do some gentle strolls.  I pulled out my mental map and could already identify several paths that seemed worth exploring.

However, when I tried to write my first post, I found myself on a desert road. The streams of inspiration and imagination had dried up. Wherever I looked, my inner landscape was arid and barren. The days passed, and I seemed to be going around in circles. This is not what I had signed up for, Lord! 

It reminded me of the painful gulf between my expectations and reality when I was climbing Kilimanjaro. Once again a journey I thought I was well prepared and equipped for was taking me deeper into the valley.

As I prayed, a picture rose in my mind of white clouds rolling in over Shira 2 camp, a nudge to remember and apply some of the lessons I learned on my Kilimanjaro trek:

Let go of excess baggage. I realised that perfectionism made my load unbearably heavy. I also kept comparing myself with other writers, forgetting to ask myself whether my writing expressed who I was at this moment and in this place.

Adopt a positive attitude. The words we choose to describe an experience will shape our feelings and actions.  “Writer’s block” –words with a ring of foreboding. My mind painted pictures of impenetrable walls and no go areas fenced in by barbed wire. But what if I thought of this as a spell of “writer’s fog” instead? I started to feel hopeful. After all, the clouds over Shira 2 had simply dispersed when I had continued walking towards them.

Confront pride, doubts and fear. My inner mountains could only end my journey if I stopped moving. While times of rest and reflection are important, permanent standstill is lethal.

Accept valleys as part of the journey. No-one can live on a mountain top forever. Even Jesus spent a lot of time in the valleys. There is beauty and life in barren places if we pay attention.

Keep walking. Others could help me carry my load and encourage me, but they could not carry me. I had to keep putting one word after the other.

My first blog post got finally written. I may have been limping along, but I am still journeying, and that is the only thing that ultimately matters...

About the author:
Sue Irving is the co-ordinator for the Creative Communicators in Petersfield. She has wanted to publish a book since she was 16, and her dream finally came true last year.  How to conquer a mountain: Kilimanjaro lessons, co-authored with by husband John, is available as a paperback and e-book on Amazon.  Good things come to those who wait... sometimes a VERY long time (32 years!)


  1. A great post. It's so true what you say - there are myriads of little things that stop us writing and so much (though not all) of it is choosing to adopt a certain mindset. YOur book sounds really interesting. Am off to Amazon to have a look :)

  2. Sue, this was a beautifully honest and touching read which impacted me on several levels at once. I love the way you reveal how to see beauty in the process itself on the way to all we are becoming creatively and spiritually. Your book intrigued me too and I've just added it to my Amazon 'Wish List'! Blessings on your life and writing. :)

  3. I loved this post and your honesty Suzanne. I am really looking forward to reading more from you. Thank you

  4. A very encouraging post. Thank you Suzanne for sharing your journey.

  5. Encouraging post. I love the idea of writer's fog. It carries more hope. Great afvice in this post too. Thank you.

  6. Encouraging post. I love the idea of writer's fog. It carries more hope. Great afvice in this post too. Thank you.


Post a Comment