“Every novel should have a beginning, a muddle, and an end.” – Peter De Vries
Middles are tough. When I’m working through the middle of a project, whether it’s a craft project, creative writing, or an academic project, I feel like I’m slogging through. The craft project is in its “ugly stage” where it hasn’t made up its mind whether it’s going to turn out well or not. I’m bored and frustrated with my latest research paper. A dozen other story ideas are clamoring for attention and it feels like I’ll never finish the first draft of anything. Middles are the muddle, and sometimes you just have to get through.
I’m currently feeling this the most with my creative writing project. I had a clear idea of exactly how I wanted the beginning to work, and that part all came together really well. For the last two months or so, however, I’ve been working on the middle. My outline was a little looser at this point, and I’m starting to feel the effects of that. To combat this, I’ve been skipping around a bit in the chronology. Instead of strictly writing the book from beginning to end, I’ve written the scenes that I’m inspired to write on that particular day. That seems to help so far (almost to the 40,000 word mark!), though I see a major novel restructure on the horizon.
There are a couple of middle muddles going on in my life at this point. We’re solidly in the middle of the semester, so my schoolwork has picked up. While peer tutoring has dropped off a little, I’m anticipating more people contacting me as we near Finals time.
Though at this point I have received notifications from all of my college applications, since the end of January I felt like I was stuck in the middle. Waiting for decisions to be emailed or posted seems like it takes forever. Luckily I’ve been able to stay busy between my schoolwork, writing, tutoring, and scholarship applications. It hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be, but I’m glad to put this middle behind me. Now we move to decision time!
Are you in the middle of a project right now? What helps you to get through the “muddle”?