Writing Secrets: A little bridge over all that mud

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

The middle can be the most daunting part of the book to push through. The beginning rushes out after you’ve been thinking about your story for months. But the middle is where writers get stuck, and run out of steam.

Here’s how one of our writers is fighting her way through it. Over the past weeks, I’ve been sharing with you the advice of a few of our mentoring participants – those who have just finished a draft, have just begun and, this week, reached the dreaded middle section.

Here’s what Ingrid has learned about writing – and herself – in the process.

It is said that we all have a book in us. At the very least, a memoir of our own lives. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who has spent hours mentally reliving their life … veritable reams of events just waiting to be put down on paper.)

So it was that, two years ago, I decided to sign up for the All About Writing Mentoring programme and write an account of my seventeen life-changing years in Italy.

With sections of my book already scripted in my head, and a rich supply of diaries from my Italian years, the first few chapters flew out effortlessly. Recounting my early years in Milan, with vivid descriptions of all the novelty (good and bad) I had encountered, was easy.

Each page contained something new. My reader could never get bored. I started imagining a completed book by the end of that year.

That was until I hit the middle of my book.

It was as though the fields of daisies I had skipped through had suddenly transformed into muddy quagmires. Every line, yet alone paragraph (I couldn’t even think in terms of pages any more) became a battle.

Words failed me, adjectives escaped me. I felt I’d said everything before, making anything I wrote feel like a boring rehash that would send any reader into a coma. The urge to just throw aside my keyboard and give up was overwhelming at times.

What saved me? A friend who, over lunch one day, simply said: “Ingrid, just recapture your previous joy of writing.”

Such an obvious solution, but one that gets utterly submerged when one is fighting through sludge.

I now leave my book open while I’m working and, as a phrase, a remembered conversation, or a recalled emotion enters my head, I write it down. It may not be in the right spot, or in the right words. But it’s a start. A little bridge over all that mud.

And with that little change, I can now see the road ahead again.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: Read like a writer, write like a champ

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