Last Word

Don’t look down: Overcome obstacles as you write

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.

–Henry Ford


(Flickr: Taber Andrew Bain)

A recent trip to beautiful Reno, Nevada inspired a visit to nearby Virginia City. The historic mining town that played host to an emerging young journalist named Samuel Clemens lay just beyond a windy mountain pass.

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From the base, the view of the cars that crisscrossed the mountain on their ascent seemed harmless enough. It wasn’t until we climbed steeper and steeper still on the sharp-turned two-lane track that my palms began to sweat and my heart pound.

My nervousness grew to near panic every time I drove the car around a swooping bend and caught sight of the world beneath us.

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“Just keeping looking forward. Don’t let your eyes wander to the side and you’ll be fine,” my husband urged me as I drove.

I heeded his advice, mostly because I had no choice. There was nowhere that I could pull over and surrender the wheel to him. So, I kept my eyes on the road, staring straight ahead until we reached the top.

After a few turns and many more palpitations, our journey finally opened up on a magical little town tucked into a mountainous perch that overlooked a broad, sweeping valley below. Suddenly, I did not regret the perilous drive.

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I see many parallels in my own writing climb. I have learned that when I can keep myself focused on the road ahead of me, I am not so distracted by the obstacles that surround me. If I become distracted, I can feel overcome by my own fears and doubts.

It is only when I have reached the top that I allow myself to look down and around and marvel at how far I have come.

What kinds of obstacles are you facing in your writing today? Where are you on your writing climb? Near the top or just getting started?

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at

Kerri S. Mabee

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