From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Coping with the mid-novel slog

That's where I'm at right now. I'm past the first 15,000 words that come oh so deceptively easy, and now the 20,000's and 30,000's feel like such a struggle. It makes me frustrated with myself, because it was coming so well before. It's still coming, but its just coming harder and slower. Does this happen to you when you hit the middle?

Reading is the best antidote I've come up with. It helps me get my mental wheels out of a rut so I'm hopefully doing more then just kicking up dirt. I feel like it helps get a fresh voice in my head. Something else that really helps me emotionally is a good movie. Its amazing how directly a really good movie makes me happy and gives me a better attitude about everything. Other peoples creative genius can be super invigorating and inspiring.

Being with other people helps me too. I'm definitely a people person, which is odd for wanting to be a writer, but there you have it. Going out to dinner or a movie (did I mention I like movies?) shakes out the aches and cobwebs in my brain and makes me feel better. Getting your heart rate up, taking a walk, shooting hoops, thats probably a good idea too. Take a walk with your camera, see what you can find.

One last quick recommendation is this: sometimes all I really need is a bit of humor. It may not change things, but it can be helpful to not take yourself too seriously. My recent favorite sources for humor are and Dear blank, please blank. You may already be familiar with these sites, but they have done wonders for me when I really just need a laugh.

The slog is still hard, though. What do you do to cope?
Sarah Allen


  1. I think when people start to approach the middle of their novel it becomes harder and harder to not look at it with a more critical eye. But as soon as you stop writing with your "creative brain" it will become harder and you won't write as well. This is probably why activities that help activate your creative side again (such as reading a book or taking a walk) work well.

  2. Oh, the dreaded middle. Or the muddle as I prefer to call it. I've been stuck at 44k for a fortnight but thanks to lots of long walks with the dogs, I'm just getting back in the groove again.

    I read, listen to music, panic about the rapidly approaching deadline - and struggle through it. Usually, before I know what's happening, I'm racing to the end. :)

    Good luck!

  3. I love this picture. Coping? Hit or throw something :)

  4. Great image! Sarah, I'm right in the middle of the slog too: 36,000 words. It's painful. The thing that gets me through is reading about all the deals in publishers marketplace. I'll never get a book published if I don't finish the first draft! Good luck! We can cheer eachother through the muddled middle.

  5. That picture says it all, doesn't it? You have some good coping strategies. I like to sit and daydream about my characters when I'm stuck. Just put them in random situations and see what I come up with.

  6. Right there with you! Last night's writing session was like trying to crack a walnut with my bare hands. Nearly impossible and well, painful!

    I've found that going to the bookstore and seeing all those terrific books on the shelves helps me, too, Inspires me to keep at it and reach my goal.

  7. I totally understand this one. Sometimes I feel like I'm adding something just to add it but it doesn't enhance the plot. That's when I have to step back, say "Wait a minute," and start chopping. Usually it's during the mid-novel slog. The answer to the problem-- go shower.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.


  8. I do everything and anything. One thing that I found really helps is putting down the particular novel that isn't that good or leaving or turning off the movie that is all wrong. I find that they give off bad vibes and are the opposite of inspiring.

  9. Movies are a great way to escape and take a break from writing. Music can be another way to get over a writing slump as well as meditation or just taking some quiet time for yourself.

    The Madlab Post


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