Tag Archives: Malaise

Managing the Mushy Middle

If you woke up this morning thinking, “You know, I’d really like to hear an incremental progress report on the collaborative work of two unpublished authors” then today is your lucky day, my friend. It is my pleasure to announce that the rough draft of our “aliens meet clockwork robots meet romantic fantasy” story has just crossed the planned halfway mark of fifty thousand words!

Since we’re here at the halfway point, I thought this might be a good time to bring up something I hear a lot of authors out there struggling with. It’s a little condition I like to call Midpoint Malaise.

Based on the data derived from me sitting here and thinking about it for about thirty seconds I believe that I can state conclusively that Midpoint Malaise is the single biggest reason novels don’t get finished. It’s that part of the story where you’ve started to fall out of love a little bit with the idea of writing your novel. Maybe the plot has started to go astray from what you thought you knew. The map has gone fuzzy, and you’re not sure which road is the right road to take you through to your grand finale ending.

So you get discouraged. You stop writing for a few days. And a few days turns into a few weeks, and after that you go back and look at your manuscript and think, “Unholy Cthulhu, did I write this? What was I thinking? This is terrible.”

And so you quit.

Well gents and lady-gents, I’m here to set you straight. First, and possibly most important, it’s okay to hate your manuscript. In fact I’d say at some point it’s inevitable. You know why? Because your manuscript sucks. Not all of it, probably, but parts of it? Sure. It’s a first draft. It’s supposed to suck.

The problem isn’t that you’re a terrible writer. You may be a terrible writer, but that isn’t the problem. The problem is that you stopped. You got bored. You lost your momentum. And now you hate your work so much you may never finish it.

Because, lets face it, the middle ain’t sexy.

Beginnings are sexy. You’re full of the flush of new ideas, and you’ve got it all lined up in your head, and when those first words spill out onto the page it’s pure magic.

Endings are sexy. There’s stuff blowing up, the bad guy finally gets vanquished, the hero gets the girl, and the world is saved.

But middles aren’t sexy. You’re developing characters, working through plot points, struggling desperately not to get sucked into the gears of the machine that is the story you’ve created.

But there is a cure for Midpoint Malaise, and it’s a healthy dose of So What? Cream.

So you’ve started to fall out of love with your story? So What? So you dread the time you have to sit down in front of the keyboard and think through those words? So What?

Because if you’re gonna do this writing thing, you need to know that it isn’t all going to be fireworks and unicorns. Some of it is going to be boring, menial, mundane work.

Most of you know this already. But maybe you needed to be reminded. I know I need my butt kicked into action every now and then.

Don’t get discouraged. Keep fighting the good fight. And whatever you do, don’t give up. Keep that momentum rolling and you can accomplish great things.