I’m beginning to think that most of writing a novel is just not losing your nerve. ~ Lev Grossman
It doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of novel edits, or writing a fresh novel draft. Once I hit the halfway mark I suddenly start to wonder if I’ve spent the last few months working on garbage. It feels as if the end is nowhere in sight, and that it would be easier to trash the project to start on something new. I like to think of this as the dark night of the writer’s soul. It happens every time.
By now, I know this feeling is normal, and I just need to keep going.
I think it’s usually due to a combination of factors, including mental burnout, and physical fatigue. This past February, I badly needed a writing break. For the better part of the month, I buried my head in projects I’d put aside that had nothing to do with writing. My well was dry and needed refilling.
If the well’s empty, you ain’t drawing any water with that bucket.
I also know it will be worth it to finish. I’m halfway there! I will and can get to the end of this story. Not every writing day is fun, but I need to find a way to get excited about this story again. I also need to figure out a better working routine for myself, that includes a pace that’s sustainable, and allows me to enjoy this process as much as possible.
So in the interests of continuous process improvements (thanks day job) , here are a couple of changes I’d like to try out:
- Cut down writing time to a half hour commitment per day, and flexible weekends. I might write or I might not. I think more often than not, I can write more than half an hour once I get into things, but even if I sit there with the laptop on, and the document open, its still something to start action.
- Eliminate word count goals. I’m not going to stress about how much I write, as long as I write something.
I figure I should be done this draft by mid May, even at a slower pace. That’s not so bad at all. I’m still easing into things, but I’ll get through this, and past this. It’s a game of ‘chicken’ and I’m not going to lose my nerve.
Do you ever have moments like this? How do you deal with it?