We have made it to the halfway mark of NaNoWriMo. As of this morning, I have just passed 35K words. I’m on a solid roll and it’s still feeling good and workable. The story is hurtling forward, but I must admit that I feel the first signs of fatigue settling in. Just call me Kate Middleton summering in Middle Earth because, my friends, we have reached the dreaded middle.
Middles are SO hard for me to write. As I wrote about last week, the set up and introduction is so much fun to write. Unearthing all your new characters, knowing all the havoc you are about to reign down on them. And the end can be utterly satisfying, wrapping it all up, giving the characters the relief they deserve. Giving yourself relief, in turn, because you have finished the damn thing.
But the middle. The middle is a slog. It’s exposition, and run-on sentences, and meandering that you’ll have to correct. It’s subplots that show up out of nowhere that you’ll either have to go back and introduce somewhere else or ultimately eliminate altogether. It is hard to turn off the inner critic and inner editor when you get to the middle. Because there is so much written already, there’s a part of me that wants to go through that and start editing. Cleaning it up. Ultimately, it’s procrastination of the writing by feigning productivity.
Half of the energy that goes into writing right now is spent mentally shoving my inner editor into a locked room and telling her to rest while she can. Have a cup of coffee, lay among the pillows of smugness that will accompany slashing and hacking away at mediocre writing, my excessive use of “very”, the various plot holes and inconsistencies. Trust me, inner editor, you’ll have your due! Plus, like, back off and let’s be friends, huh?
One of my favorite quotes, well paraphrases, on writing is from Judy Blume who said in response to those who tell her she’s a good writer, “No, I’m a good rewriter.”
I think of this over and over again when the sentence I’m working on comes out close to the point, but doesn’t hit the essence of the thing. When the word I choose is adjacent to the one I mean. When the dialogue is funny but not sparkling.
I will have a chance to rewrite, to make it so much better. But you can’t rewrite nothing. By getting caught up on reworking the first half, I could forever get locked in a rewriting loop where I never actually finish.
So for now, I’m halfway there and legit living on a prayer. The only way out of the middle is to keep writing my way through it. Often knowingly writing something I will absolutely cut later because it is the only way to get to the good stuff. It’s a maddening process that makes us writers a little batty.
If you’re feeling stuck in this halfway point, I encourage you to push through. Write through it. Even if that writing is the worst of your life, it’s better than nothing the page. It’s better than not giving it a go. No matter your word count, just keep at it. You started NaNoWriMo for a reason, and you owe your novel and yourself an honest try.
If nothing else, take heart that I’m stuck in the middle with you.