Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Surviving The Murky Middle
But don't give up.
Here are a few things that I've done to help me survive The Murky Middle and even finish a novel or two:
1) Buy yourself a white board. Or a bulletin board. Something you can keep on your wall, preferably right in front of or close to your laptop. I'm not much of a plotter but I find that it helps to go a little outline-anal when it comes to the middle. (My freshman college composition teacher would be so proud, although Roman numerals still make me shudder!) It helps you to connect the dots from Point A to Point B.
2) When you get frustrated, step away from your laptop. It's OKAY to take a break from writing. (Believe me, this is easier said than done but sometimes it's the only thing that works.) Remember that the sky won't open and swallow you whole. If you can't pry your fingers from the keyboard, try a writing exercise. My favorite is to try to write a 100-word sentence with no punctuation. It can be about anything--an object in your office, a person, a voice in your head--anything--as long as it's not even remotely related to your WIP. The point is to clear your head so you'll return to your WIP with a clear mind.
3) Read a book. I can't tell you how often I find inspiration from other authors. When I'm in the middle of writing my WIP, I like to read other books in a similar genre. Since I'm in the middle of finishing a first draft of an Apache legend, I like to read a lot of historicals, Westerns, anything with adventure, suspense, and a fast pace. If that doesn't work, try writing a novella on the side. There's something to be said for writing two WIPs at once and alternating between the two. Right now, I've got three going--yes, three. My current WIP, a contemporary romance, and a novella Christmas story.
4) Finally, don't overwhelm yourself by thinking, "Gee, I've got to write another 60,000 words or this WIP is toast. Tackle it in chunks. Focus on a chapter at a time. Remind yourself that it's a first draft. It's not supposed to be perfect. There will be plenty of time for editing. Yada yada yada.
Yes, that's my two cents. Most of the time I follow my own advice. :-) When all else fails, massive amounts of chocolate always dulls the pain.
How do you survive The Murky Middle?