Mid-Book Blues

You can’t imagine how badly I don’t want to write today.

I don’t have a good reason. I don’t have other plans. I just want to spend all day in bed, intellectually if not physically. I’ve been procrastinating for hours now.

And what could it hurt, taking a day off? I’ve only had one day off in the last 34 days, after all, and that was when I went on a family outing AND had a dentist appointment. I’ve written on days I had a broken keyboard.  I’ve written on days when I had 2 hour doctor consultations eating up my normal writing slot. Surely I deserve a break?

I can think of two reasons the answer to that is ‘No way!’

One is: I have a deadline. Deadlines, even. They’re self-imposed but they matter a lot to me. I’m pretty sure I can meet the first deadline, which is only important so I can meet the second deadline. And I’m a lot less certain about the second deadline. I’ll be asking myself to do more in four months than I’ve ever done before, and if I can squeeze even an extra week of time out of the current project, that could help immensely.

The other reason is my motivation behind wanting to stay in bed all day: I’ve reached the first set of mid-book blues. It’s happened with every book I’ve written so far: somewhere near the middle of the book, I become convinced that it’s all a mess, and one of the worst atrocities ever committed to digital ink. My scenes aren’t cool enough, my dialog isn’t interesting enough, my characters are uninspired and my plot is too convoluted to be even remotely believable. Nobody sane could ever like it. It’d be better for everybody if I just gave up now.

It happens with every book. In a couple of books, the blues have won.  With my first major project, the blues actually convinced me to try to quit writing for a couple years. It didn’t last– how could it?– but it did prompt me to spend a lot of time studying storycraft in new ways. That was good, but I’d still like to return to that project someday. I found bits of it the other day and it wasn’t nearly as awful as I thought it was at the time, at least on a scene-by-scene level.

What I really wonder is why this happens to me? It isn’t a function of how long I’ve spent on the project. It isn’t a desire to work on something else. It may be a little bit of jealousy– I think the current bout was partially triggered by reading praise of a few lines in another book and wondering if I had anything that awesome.  But usually reading other books while writing inspires and invigorates me as I observe new techniques and get stuffed full of good stuff. So… it can’t just be comparison.

And it might be a little of the echo chamber of constantly trying to improve my work– when I’m constantly looking for ways to make it better, that can easily become only seeing what’s wrong. But I have a supportive alpha reader who offers both constructive and positive feedback (‘needs more particle effects’). So it can’t just be the echo chamber.

And it might just be a bad mood, and it might be the part of the story I’m at, which is supposed to be scary and emotional and wrenching– and how can I write that without feeling some of it myself?

All I really know is that I have to keep writing. Because if I let myself stop, it will undo the habits I’m forming and make it so much harder to achieve my goals. Nobody can enjoy what isn’t finished, after all.

ETA: I finished my daily writing, and discovered neat little resonances between the beginning and the end of the scene. Awesome reward!


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