Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Muddy Middle of NaNoWriMo

Whether you call it the muddy middle, the saggy middle, the sticking place, or just I SUCK, we all reach the point where writing seems hopeless.

I’m there now. I’m still getting words down, but nothing is getting any clearer. I’m confused, demoralized and starting to think I’ll never understand anything again. Doubt is creeping in, and I’m beginning to suspect that it won’t go away for a while.
However, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s small, dim and is not growing nearly fast enough, but it’s there within this advice.

Struggle is Unavoidable
“Don’t take the easy way out. Don’t let your characters do it either. Great stories are about struggle, and you must endure struggle of your own to create great stories.” –The Write Practice, "I Don’t Want to Write," 10/4/13
Apparently if I’m struggling, I’m doing something right. If I sidetrack, backtrack or skirt the problem I’m facing, I'd be taking the easy way out. So I’m going to barrel through and meet the struggles as they come.

You Have What You Need
“Every theme, and character weakness, and part of the world you've built is a tool that you can use to figure out where the story should go.” –Veronica Roth, "The Sticking Place" on YA Highway, 8/4/11
If Veronica Roth says I have what I need to wrap up my story, I believe it. The parts of my story, the themes I’ve introduced, the characters I’ve created, should/can/will equal an ending. I may have to search a little to find the right one, but it’s there. And I plan on finding it.

Keep Charging
“This is the magic/curse of writing: That in crafting your fiction, you leave yourself open to sudden moments of unguarded truth, and you have to be willing to tolerate that again and again. You have to keep raising your sword and charging, even knowing you could retreat scorched and missing a limb. You have to keep doing it even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to.” –Libba Bray, "The Ever-Popular I Suck Playlist," 4/28/11
In the pursuit of greatness, you might be burned. You might break a pencil. You might lose a favorite line or scene or character. But don’t stop charging. Keep writing. Don’t stop putting words on the page. That’s all there is to it, really.

Thanks, experienced writers, for reminding me that not only does this happen, it is common. And it can be overcome. It may take time, effort and struggle. It may mean tears and involve doubt, insecurity and a little emotional scarring. But hopefully, it will lead to a full draft a publishable novel.
While in one hand I have doubt that I will ever see the end, in the other I have hope that it is possible. (And multitudes of proof on my sagging bookshelves.) So I put my hands together, and keep typing.

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