Sagging Middle

by Catherine
(UK)

Question: I have read your page on the 'Sagging Middle' and I have followed all your steps and almost have a complete story plan, but whenever I get down to actually write the thing, I get stuck. I can write about fifty or so pages but after that I get bored with my current novel and start a new one (normally without planning) but I am serious about this one. Is there any help or advice you could offer for writers block? All help would be really appreciated, thanks!


Answer: Most writers go through this. Middles are tough. In fact, you could argue that the discipline to get through the middle is what separates "the men from the boys" in the writing game, if you can forgive the sexist metaphor.

If you have a good outline, you have taken an important step. You know where you are going with the story. Just focus on one event at a time. Conjure the feeling of the next step in your story and write it fully. Then move on. Once you reach the point where the end is in sight, it gets easier.

The other thing that can help is to write very quickly. If this were autumn, I'd recommend you participate in Nanowrimo, which is a writing challenge held each November, in which you write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. (This works out to roughly 1,700 words a day, which most people can do in a couple of hours if they don't stop to revise and censor themselves.)

You can set up a similar challenge for yourself with a deadline and daily accountability. Arrange rewards along the way that you will only get if you reach your goal. (E.g. have your partner agree to give you a massage if you reach your weekly goal, swear off TV, internet, or alcohol until you're finished, arrange a night out with friends or buy yourself a treat when you're done, etc.)

While you're doing this program, give yourself permission to write badly. Hold off all editing, revising, etc. until after the deadline has passed and you've finished a complete draft. The challenge is just to get as many words down as possible in a short time. It's about quantity, not quality.

It also helps to have a set time to start each day. Let the rest of the household, friends, etc. know that you will start at a set time each day and will not allow interruptions, answer the phone, emails, etc. until you've hit 1,700 words.

Best of luck.

Comments for Sagging Middle

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 10, 2013
Thanks!
by: Catherine

Thanks so much, this'll really help and I think setting a deadline for each day with no interruptions is a great idea, I love this site too,thank you so much!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero