I’m smack dab in the middle of a large project right now, the third draft of a high fantasy novel that’s already over 115K and at the rate I’m adding words may well finish at 150K. It’s taken me three months to get here and will probably take another six before I have a polished manuscript. To put it mildly, it’s proving to be a slog.
I think there’s a real temptation while mired in the middle to start dreaming of quitting. That shining vision that inspired me to give this manuscript another go has long since faded and other ideas beckon alluringly, promising that they are the next bestseller, not this terrible mess I’m currently wading through.
Three things keep me going.
Stubbornness. I think this is a required trait to be a successful writer. I am more stubborn than those beckoning voices. I will finish this manuscript.
Experience. I’ve lived through this mired-in-the-middle feeling before and persevered. In fact, I’ve gone on to publish work that I once despaired over.
Improvement. While many bits are still far from the shining prose that I aspire to, I can see improvement in the work in tension and complexity since the last draft. I have to remember that’s what I’m aiming for: improvement, not perfection. Perfection will always remain just out of reach.
What keeps you going when you’re stuck in the middle?