Ingermanson on “Doing Hard Things”

As a person who continuously struggles to get the balance right between family, work and creativity, reading this post helped to get some more motivation to just get on with it:

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 17,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit
I can only encourage you to sign up to his newsletter. It’s always good advice on anything writing- and publishing-related. Enjoy!

Organization: Do Hard Things

Everybody has projects in their life that they don’t want to tackle. Hard things.

Maybe there’s a part of your yard that’s overgrown with weeds, and it just gets worse and worse and worse every week.

Maybe your garage is overloaded with junk you don’t use, don’t want, and don’t even dare look at because it’s too depressing.

Maybe there’s a relationship in your life that’s gone south and it seems unfixable.

I call things like these “the swamp.” The swamp is any part of your life that you don’t dare touch because it just seems overwhelming. Because it’s too hard.

There are two ways to handle the swamp.

  • You can ignore it forever.
  • You can go through it to the other side.

Those are the only two ways I’ve ever found for dealing with the swamp. Ignoring the swamp is easy. Going through it is hard.

But doing hard things builds character. (It’s much easier to say this when you are not about to enter the swamp. But it’s also true, so it bears saying.)

Here are a few other things that are also true:

  • The swamp doesn’t go away by itself.
  • In fact, the longer you ignore the swamp, the worse it gets.
  • The only way to go through the swamp is to go through the swamp. You can’t go around.
  • The first time you go into the swamp is the scariest.
  • The swamp is never quite as terrible as it seems.
  • There is no feeling as wonderful as coming out on the other side of the swamp.

This is a short column because there’s really not much to say about the swamp. You can either hide from it or you can go through it to freedom. You get to choose.

Do hard things. The characters you write fiction about are in the business of doing hard things. The more hard things you do, the better you’ll be able to tell their story.


  • What is the swamp in your life, right now?
  • If you decided to go through the swamp, how long would it take?
  • How would you feel when you came out the other side?

One thought on “Ingermanson on “Doing Hard Things”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.