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Mid-Novel Slump – How Do You Deal With It?

22 Comments

Neil Gaiman

As we reach the halfway mark of Camp NaNoWriMo, some will find themselves hitting the infamous mid-month slump. If you’re on track with your writing goals, you should be halfway through your novel by now. And if you’re behind, well, you’re probably beginning to panic, which brings me to Pep Talks.

Over the course of the month, you get pep talks from famous writers who share their words of wisdom and encourage you on this crazy, wonderful journey you’ve decided to take. What could be better than that?

Camp NaNoWriMo apparently has this feature, too, although on a smaller scale, it would seem, as they’re delivered directly to your inboxes.

It’s the 14th, which means I should have 23,334 words by now. At 20,040 words, I’m still two days behind. A few days ago, I hit my “mid-month slump,” way ahead of schedule. Writing was becoming more and more like pulling teeth. I had to force myself to keep writing, skipping ahead with the scenes, because otherwise I’d not get anything written.

All of us go through this, that moment when you wonder if you should simply give up on this story and move on to the next shiny thing. You begin to wonder whether anyone else but you would care about your novel and your characters. As a matter of fact, you probably want to stab each and every one of your characters by now for being the boring, uncooperative lot that they are.

It is easy to fall into this trap and go through an endless loop of never-finished stories. In these times, we need more than ever to have that cheerleader: someone who’s going to tell you to keep at it, someone who believes in you even when you have lost faith in yourself. Not everyone will have that, unfortunately.

There are way too many amazing pep talks but for today, I want to focus on the one given by Neil Gaiman.

In his pep talk, he sums up the frustration and despair that we go through when writing. We are not unique in this; all writers go through it. The difference is whether we choose to give up or forge on. As much as we’d like to believe, there is no magic formula. It’s all just hard work and we have to be prepared to do it.

As Neil Gaiman put it: One word after another. That’s the only way that novels get written. So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.

Which part of your novel do you find hardest to get through–the beginning, middle, or the end? How do you deal with it? And if you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, how is your writing going so far?

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22 thoughts on “Mid-Novel Slump – How Do You Deal With It?

  1. Beginning is always the hardest for me. I work better at the editing phase, when I can see my story on the page and can mold and shape it. I usually go through a rough beginning and slowly build steam.
    Hope you get caught up. Not too far behind!

  2. Getting started has always been my weak spot. I’d write, then start endlessly fussing with it. When I started to do NaNoWriMo two years ago, I had no time to fuss. Suddenly, I found that I have to push myself to 900 words before I get into a pace. So when I’m tempted to fuss, to start-and-stop, I remind myself to just get to 900 words first then see how it unfolds. Maybe we each have to discover where our slumping points are!

  3. Usually the hardest part for me is writing the middle (since that’s where the meat of the story is). As for Camp NaNo, my novel isn’t giving me any trouble. It’s my schedule…. 😦

  4. I’m drowning. Very far behind but I like my story so far. I’m posting a page of it this week.

    • I feel for you. I know you’ve been having a crazy time juggling stuff so it’s definitely impressive that you manage to steal some time to write. Looking forward to your next snippet. Looks like you’re getting some quality stuff done at least. πŸ™‚

  5. It doesn’t sound like you’re too far behind though! That’s an impressive word count πŸ™‚

    I think the beginning is definitely the hardest part for me, I struggle with the pressure to make it amazing and interesting as an opening πŸ˜€

    • Thanks, the gap is beginning to widen though. I haven’t written anything yet today and it’s nearly tomorrow, which will put me at over 6k words behind. Yikes. I think I need to plug off internet and actually get some writing done. I agree on the pressure of openings though. It doesn’t get any easier, whichever part you’re writing LOL.

  6. neil gaiman is awesome – love that quote. perseverence is what makes a writer an author!
    happy a to z-ing!

  7. This is so true and very timely! I’ve done the “oh this is getting hard, I’m moving on to another project” thing – I really need to force myself to make it all the way to the end this time!!

  8. You are right on.
    For me, it’s my first nano and first writing in a novel length. The most challenging was a middle. It seemed to me, my scenes are slow, and my characters are boring at that stage.
    But I keep writing. Like you pointed out… one word at a time makes the novel at the finish line.

  9. This is a great post! Very true to life. I find the hardest part to get through is the places where I am trying to pass a lot of time quickly. I want to narrate it rather than use dialog so that it’s not too long and boring, but then I feel like it isn’t exciting enough because there isn’t any dialog. πŸ™‚

  10. I tend to get a bit stuck about 2/3rds through, when the book needs to ramp up and get ready for the climax, and I need to balance what I’d like to have happen and wrap up with what the book really needs. This is the point where I re-evaluate and make sure its set up, and I often find myself ramming into walls.

    • Very interesting to read at which point people tend to falter in their novels. Thanks for sharing! It is definitely a hard act to balance. You want to make it so that the ending doesn’t feel rushed and yet you don’t want to drag it out unncessarily. Thanks for stopping by.

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