Sometimes I’m asked by non-writers, “What’s the hardest part about writing novels? Coming up with ideas? Staring at the blank page? Forcing yourself to sit down and write?”
Without a doubt, for me, the hardest part is the middle of the novel. At that point, I don’t feel like I’m writing – I feel as if I’m digging a thousand-mile literary ditch with a teaspoon. I wail to myself, “I’ll never get this thing finished. I’ll die before it’s done!” I’ve now written six novels, and I go through these histrionics every damned time. It’s part of the creative process I could definitely do without.
So, how do I cope with these spasms of self-doubt? Well, I have four strategies that I use, depending on how I feel that day.
As I said in a previous blog, I turn to cartooning using Adobe Draw on my iPad Pro. It’s hard to stay depressed when you’re drawing goofy self-portraits like the following:
The second thing I sometimes do is have a “pity party” for myself. I give myself over to 15 to 30 minutes of wearing fictional sack cloth and ashes and scourging myself with equally fictional whips. Then, I say, “That’s enough of this crap. Back to writing.” I admit that it’s an odd psychological trick, but it works for me!
My third coping mechanism is to walk away from the work and do something that requires no thought – go golfing, garden, walk, play tennis, etc. – and do these things for a few days or even a week. After all, if I interrupt my writing, the world won’t crumble beneath my feet.
A fourth option for me is to switch to writing business pieces. After 30+ years of writing articles, books, seminars and workshops, it’s easy for me to do, and – even better – it pays immediately! Nothing bucks up a writer’s spirits like actual money in the bank!
My recommendation: If you’re a writer, try out various strategies of your own to find out what works. If all else fails, get out and exercise! Feed oxygen to that brain of yours and recharge its creativity!