The other day, I hit the halfway point of my novel. And just like with every other novel, I wanted to quit right there.
The other times, this frustration had made sense, because I hadn’t outlined the plot. But this time, I had a much better idea of where I was going than with any other story I’ve ever written.
But, I wanted to quit. I second-guessed my pre-planned ending. I decided the writing style wasn’t good enough, the dialogue not snappy enough.
I second-guessed the existence of the sub-plot. Heck, I began to second-guess the direction and plots of the other two books I’ve written so far in the series!
I am not alone
Many runners, whether in a marathon or doing their daily deal, experience overwhelm halfway through and are tempted to turn around and go home. A lot of people quit halfway through earning a degree.
People who could have had a forty- to fifty-year marriage give up on it twenty years in (or, of course, much earlier).
Why? Is it because humans are, by nature, quitters?
Au contraire, humans are, by nature, survivors. I think one big reason so many people quit halfway through to a goal is lack of support.
Writers are notorious for being loners. Our culture encourages isolation from others, so we lack cheerleaders and rear-end-kickers when we’re struggling in our marriage or career or with working toward any kind of goal we yearn to achieve.
Another reason people quit at the halfway point? We don’t count the cost ahead of time. Or, we do, but then when we get in the middle of a journey, stuff happens. We get tired and burned out, and forget that it’s normal to disagree with our spouse, it’s normal for experienced authors to think that they’re terrible and that their book is no good, it’s normal to be exhausted halfway through a marathon.
It’s normal to face obstacles.
How to persevere
I stated that I shouldn’t have experienced my usual halfway-point brick wall. However, this time I only needed a day to talk myself down from it, to convince myself that the plot wasn’t ridiculous and the writing wasn’t bad.
The other times? It took me several days, even more than a week (once or twice, more than a month) to get over the Novel Halfway Hump.
What changed? I’ve been listening to podcasts for authors, by authors, who have been sharing about having the same difficulties that I have. The same insecurities.
I’m talking about bestselling, traditionally-published authors.
It’s not the same as face-to-face support, but it’s helped take away the feeling of author loneliness.
And I’ve persevered because past experience has reminded me that obstacles will come, and they will pass.
Or, rather, I can climb over them. Sometimes, if I’m in a good enough mood, jump over them.
Do yourself a favor. Before you embark on a long-term project, remind yourself that obstacles are normal, and that you are well able to overcome them.
And surround yourself with some kind of support system.
Don’t quit halfway. Because then your only choice is to turn around and go back to the beginning, back to the place you were hoping to walk out of.