Works in Progress – Trudging Through the Middle

I am at that place in my work in progress in which I want to set the manuscript on fire. Usually, this is only a figurative problem. After all, despite my sometimes tumultuous relationship with my laptop, I’m not likely to actually set it on fire. This time, I am writing in a notebook. I truly could live out this fantasy, and it is only the more level-headed side of my brain that is keeping me from following through.

The point remains, in the lifespan of every writing project there comes a moment in which you don’t want to have anything to do with it anymore. In many cases, it is the dreaded inner critic who rears its ugly head. It wants to convince you that whatever you are writing stinks worse than anything that has ever been written. It doesn’t deserve to ever see the light of day and you are wasting your precious time on this earth by continuing to spend another moment working on it.

Sometimes, it can be a simple lack of inspiration. Where should this story go? What do the characters want? We don’t know and so we ignore the file (or the notebook) until we can no longer even remember what the story is about.

Another problem can be boredom. Writing can be great fun, but it can also be work. And sometimes, work can be boring. There are so many other things that we could be doing other than spending our lives typing or scrawling on paper. There is a whole life out there to be lived, there are mountains to climb, there are Facebook statuses to write, toilets to clean. There comes a time when anything seems better than facing another minute looking at that blank page!

So, what can be done when one is stuck in the middle? Some people abandon the project all together. This is why there are many more unfinished manuscripts than finished ones. But, that’s not what we want. After all, we are writers. We want to persevere. We want to complete our projects. We want to see our names on finished books!

I wish there were an easy solution, but the only one I have found is to keep going. Keep sitting in that chair and writing. Tell the inner critic to take a hike. This is a first draft. The inner critic should only be allowed to have some input on later revisions. Right now, we are just getting the story out. Suffering from lack of inspiration? Have your character do something totally out of character. Give him or her an adventure. You may need to edit it out later, but it will keep you writing until the moment passes. You may even find you’ve written something worth saving or expanding upon. And, yes, it is okay to go out and live a little – all writing and no play makes writers dull. Call it research and see what things you can find in the world that you can incorporate into your story. You never know what you might be able to use. I once got a good idea on a mini-golf course!

And so, as I trudge through the middle, I will continue to resist the urge to make my notebook meet a sad end. If you are stuck in the middle as well, keep the faith and keep working. The middle passes, to be followed by the beauty that is the end.

Do you have any good strategies you use to get through the middle of your works in progress?


About AnneFaye

Anne Faye writes from Western Massachusetts and is the author of The Rose Ring and Through the Open Window, and blogs at You can follow her on Twitter at @AnneMFaye
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4 Responses to Works in Progress – Trudging Through the Middle

  1. Writing non-fiction, the only thing that got me to the end of was desperate fear of embarrassment, and a friend to give me a sharp talking-to when I needed it.

    I’m hoping the same trick will kick on soon on my current manuscript, because right now I’m find it waaay to easy too prioritize other stuff first. Not good. Gotta get it in gear.

  2. Reminds me a lot of a couple of thesises I did along with one “Capstone Project” (university’s lingo) that I finished. I distinctly remember that when I got to “middle” of each I: hated the text, hated the re-writes, was sure nothing was any good, wanted to scrap the whole meatball, thought the writing as junk, wasn’t sure of the conclusions! I learned to mark those “symptoms” as the place where I was ready to finish a good document that was actually going along pretty well and ignore my self-judgements as just plain exhaustion! Sometimes we can be delusional through no fault of our own!

  3. My advice is to humbly pray for inspiration especially at Eucharistic Adoration–if your writing for Him, then let Him lead you!
    When you pray, “Lord, give me the words You want me to write,” there’s no telling what will come from your pen (or keyboard)!

    Just recently, I added a scene to my upcoming book (which is a sequel to my first novel, Annabelle of Anchony: Burdens of the Mind) that was inspired during my time adoring Christ and, fittingly, it is about the power of the Eucharist!

  4. I have the good fortune to have had a lot of encouragment. Uncle Charlie, in particular, wants to see everything I write and then use up his red ink pens correcting everything. I guess what I might be alluding to, we writers need to encourage one another. Moral Catholic media example says a lot. Hang in; write on.