Stuck in the Middle (And how to push through)


So you’ve started your story and your momentum is hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh! So high, you may as well be a balloon floating in the air. Your fingers are racing over the keyboard and the ideas are flowing quickly and smoothly.

But soon it takes you double the time to crank out the page and your story begins to feel dull, forced. You’re in the middle of your story and even though you may have an idea of how you want it to end, you have no idea how to get there from where you are.

Does this sound familiar? Does your word count goal appear before you like a mirage in the desert? I imagine most of us have struggled with our story in the middle, especially when writing our novel. So here are a couple of tips that have helped me and will hopefully help you:


  • Take a break – the longer the break the better. This allows you to come back to your work and read it, almost as though you were reading it for the first time. You will be able to look at it with a fresh eye and note the strengths and weaknesses, you may also be able to see what direction it should go.
  • Go out – If you’re anything like me, you spend the majority of your days hold up and hissing at anyone who tries to suggest going out. But going out helps to clear your mind and also exposes you to experiences that you may be able to include in your story. It doesn’t matter if your outing is a walk, or a party or meal out with friends.
  • Write something else – Engage in a writing prompt, free write, write a poem, exercise your creative juices in a short term piece. Allow yourself to write without the usual pressure and to enjoy the art again.
  • Talk to someone – Do you have a friend that enjoys listening to your stories and that you can sound your ideas against. Tell them your plot; listen to how it sounds out loud, find out what they think. They may come up with a stellar concept. Make sure your confidante is someone you can trust.
  • Go back to the basics – A lot of the time, we reach a roadblock in our writing because we didn’t take the time to plan the story properly. But it’s not too late. Stop writing, and start planning. Find out your character’s motivations and try to understand why they did the things they have done thus far and what they really want.
  • Write a summary/blurb – Narrow your story down to a couple of sentences, this will help you to see how well you understand your story. Sometimes the more complicated a story, the harder it is to unravel. Can you simplify your tale? You might be wondering how simplifying your tale will help you grow your story, but once you understand a plot at its basest, it’s easier to tell what needs to be developed and how.


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Oyinkan Braithwaite

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May 2019
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