Consider yourself warned: There’s a point, usually around the halfway point of your story but not always, when you will hit a moment of crisis. This story is a mess, my writing is awful, the characters are flat and dull, and the whole thing is falling apart. Why am I even bothering to write this? This feeling will often coincide with the siren call of a shiny new idea that would be sooo much easier to write, and it’ll try to convince you that maybe you should just go write that and stop wasting your time with this disaster.
When you hit this point, it will feel very personal, rooted in all your fears and insecurities, but it’s a universal experience. From Stephen King to J. K. Rowling, all writers have talked about this dark moment when it feels like their story, their draft, nay, their entire writing career unravels. But what the experienced writer knows that the new one doesn’t is that this is not a sign to quit or chase your latest plot bunny to a new story, but a normal part of the process. The only way out is through. Keep writing past this pocket of doom, and you’ll find your footing again on the other side.
There was a point in every single thing I’ve ever written where I ended up sobbing to my husband that the story doesn’t work and I’m a complete failure and I have no idea how to write and all my successes so far have been a fluke and— Oh, wait, never mind, I’ve got it!
And then I’m right back to it.
Finish what you start. If the story was worth starting, it’s worth finishing. Jot down ideas for that shiny new idea, so you don’t forget it but then get your butt back in the chair and get back to work.
Middles are hard. It’s when the novelty of the new project has worn off, and the narrative gets tricky. It’s also when you’ve been writing for long enough that it’s stopped being fun and you’re just looking for an out. But the good news is that, as hard as middles are, endings are easier. Push through the murky middle, and you’ll find yourself flying again, you and your story accelerating through the climax to the end.
There are some things you can only learn about a project (and about writing itself) from taking something all the way to its conclusion. It’s easy to chase the latest shiny new idea, but it’s by doing the hard work of finishing what you start that will level up your skills and give you a finished project you can do something with.