My biggest obstacle is to keep writing, even now, because I'm tempted to hit the delete key a dozen times a day. I constantly think, This is garbage and everybody knows it.
My late wife, Shirley, used to say to me, "Because you think about it all the time, you assume everyone knows it. But they haven't read it the way you write it."
Another factor is that once I've worked through something, I'm ready to move on to new territory. "I've finished with that," I hear myself say. That's the major reason I write in the midst of my struggles. I do it when I'm still unsettled, confused, or in pain.
For instance, I wrote a book called When God Turned Off the Lights. For eighteen months, God didn't communicate with me. I'm not one of those individuals who has chummy conversations with the Lord, but I sense directions after I seek guidance. But nothing happened for all those months.
In the Old Testament, the writers speak of God hiding his face from them for a time. Then I understood—it didn't change my emotions, but it did help me to know that my experience wasn't unique. Psalm 13:1 was the verse I most often thought about: "How long, O Lord, will you hide your face from me?"
After a few months living in the darkness, I began to rough out chapters (and entries in my journal). I've never had such a dark period in my life, but I knew the day would come when God would smile on me again.
Outwardly, life was going well and I had book contracts for collaborating with others. But my own life felt empty and lifeless. The worst part was when I asked myself, If God never makes his face shine on me again, will I still trust him?
Again, it was painfully hard to write about the darkness because I was living in it. But I kept on. The book has never been a big seller, but occasionally I hear from individuals who tell me they have been or are going through that dark, arid period.
I write in the midst of my pain
and that helps me come out of my pain.
 When God Turned Off the Lights, 2009, Regal/Baker Books.