Three Writing Challenges That No Longer Scare Me

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By Kathleen Y’Barbo

This year, I celebrate fifteen years in as a published author and ten years with my fabulous agent, Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency. Next year, in 2016, I will celebrate twenty years as a writer.

I am closing in on sixty books published and two million books in print, and in a few days I will be in Dallas, Texas at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention to accept the award for the RT Inspirational Romance of the Year for Sadie’s Secret, book 3 of my historical romance series The Secret Lives of Will Tucker-my first RT award.

And yet, every time I sit down at my keyboard, I have this moment…this challenge…can I do it again? That’s the big challenge, and I don’t know if that one will ever go away. However, here are three other challenges that no longer scare me:

Challenge #1: I write, and I admit it. That may sound silly, but there was a time when writing was something I didn’t mention except in the company of other authors. The challenge of telling someone you’re a writer usually brings on the requirement that you explain. Before I was published, this meant enduring the questions about publication and coming up with a feasible explanation as to why I continued to write even though I wasn’t getting paid for it. Later after I’d had a few books under my belt, the response became, “Do I know you?” That hasn’t changed much, though it is nice to be paid for it.

Challenge #2: I’ve learned to turn off my internal editor. In my early days of writing, I had no clue about the rules. I just wrote. Words flowed without any thought to structure, character arc or any of the other important parts of a novel. What I write is much better than it was way back then, but rarely does it flow like it used to. However, when I turn off my internal editor and just let go, I find I do have some wonderful gems to clean up and polish later.

Challenge #3: I’ve stopped comparing-mostly. If you’re a writer who has been at it very long, you will no doubt understand that there have been occasions when I wished someone else’s success was mine. I didn’t begrudge him or her the accolades, the contract, or whatever form that success took. Instead, I wanted it too. I still have those moments, but I am far quicker to remember that the Lord measures our steps and decides our path. Who am I to complain? And honestly, the fact I get to write? Oh, that is a reward all it’s own…most days!

Sadies SecretBestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than fifty novels with almost two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. Her historical romance Sadie’s Secret is the winner of the Romantic Times 2014 Inspirational Romance of the Year. Find out more at:

Comments 0

  1. Kathleen, congratulations on the RT award. That is wonderful and so well-deserved. I haven’t written 60 books or have two million books in print, but I have been writing for 20 years (21 and a half, to be exact) and I couldn’t agree more with the three challenges you listed! For me, I was probably 10 years into my career before I met each challenge: being able to admit confidently that I was a writer; trusting myself to just write, knowing I could fix it all later; and being able to genuinely rejoice with writer friends who sold more, got more awards, better perks from their publishers, etc. without comparing myself and getting discouraged.

    It’s MUCH happier on the other side of those challenges, and like you said: oh, simply to get to write? That’s all I could have ever hoped for?and more.

    Great post!

  2. Oh, Kathleen, you’ve been reading my mail…or my mind. I’ve faced all three of these challenges, and unlike you, I still find myself fighting them at times. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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