Once you figure out how to get started on your writing project, various obstacles show up unexpected and unannounced. It happens when you least expect it, when you think you found your groove. Your hands are flying across the keyboard, you’re making great strides, when a STOP sign flashes in your mind’s eye. You pause, your mind becomes hazy and you try to understand the obstacle and how to get around it.
A few examples: Does your work sound like you? If it doesn’t, go back to Square One and find your voice so it sounds like you’re talking to someone.
Does it feel as if you’re on the right track with your story? If not, look closer at the big picture, check the Table of Contents and make appropriate changes.
Do some of the phrases and words sound awkward? Think about them for a while, say them out loud, and do some rewriting.
Making these adjustments are difficult enough, but then, there’s the lull of the halfway point, a bear of an obstacle, as you come to a hard stop and wonder where the hell you should go from here. This is a common issue among writers, so I suggest to my students that they think about running a marathon. You approach the starting line, the crack of the gun goes off, your mind is focused, and you start running. It feels good at first, you take long steady strides, deep breaths, and you make some headway – until you hit Mile 13. The dreaded halfway point. It’s as if you’re not the same person. Your breath becomes labored, your muscles ache, and your mind is spinning out of control, telling you that you can’t possibly go one more step. You soldier on, one step at a time, struggling with your mind and your body – until everything begins to lighten up. Your breath goes steady again, you found your second wind, and you’re on your way again, feeling better than before.
Something similar occurs when you write a book. You get the first sentence, you begin to write and time stands still – until you get to the lull of the halfway point. You can’t believe you have an entire second half of the to write. When you read back the words that sounded so good and right when you started, the work has taken on a sense of boredom. It feels so humdrum, you wonder how on earth you’ll ever get to the end. Your mind is cloudy, your words sound dull and drab, and you want to quit.
Don’t. Things will change, I promise, if you stick with it. When you catch your second wind, it’ll be worth the effort you made to keep yourself on track. In fact, it feels so good, after you finish writing, you just may want go out and run that marathon.