There comes a time in everything that I’m writing where I hit the middle and I have to make myself keep slogging forward. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a short story or something longer. It usually hits about 1/3 of the way in.
I’ve tried to analyze what it is. I’ve heard writers, usually on panels or podcasts, explain that it’s because the newness has worn off and the ending is very far away. I don’t think that’s my problem. The middle isn’t a boredom problem for me. The middle is where the meat of the story happens, and even though I write from an outline, the characters still do things that surprise me. And it’s not a shiny new thing problem. Shiny new things crop up, and I either modify the idea and throw it in my outline, or I write it down and save it for later.
My wall usually arrives in the form of self doubt. I catch myself thinking, what if this actually isn’t as cool as I think it is? What if I’m wasting my time when I could be writing something better? What if the ending sucks? What if I hate it? So I think my problem is a self-consciousness problem.
I’m not going to lie, there are a couple things that I’ve written that are completely cringeworthy. I hold on to them in the hopes that, some day, I’ll be reading through my collection of works in progress, lightning will strike, and I’ll have the answer that solves all of the story’s problems. For some of my things, especially my earliest things, I think they are probably just too bad to be saved. But I can’t bring myself to throw them out.
Even considering the cringeworthy stories, that’s only some of my writing. So when the story has stopped dragging me along, and it’s my turn to drag it along, I have to remind myself that the rest of my writing is actually pretty cool and enjoyable to read and why do I even care anyway because I’m writing this for myself. It usually works. Besides, if I stopped 1/3 of the way through every time I felt that way, I wouldn’t finish anything.