Making it through the Messy Middle

How do you feel when you set a goal? Excited? Happy? Hopeful? Goal setting is a positive activity; it generates hope for the future and gives you a positive path forward. Next question how do you feel when you are working towards accomplishing your goal? I can tell you from experience, I get tired, I get overwhelmed, I second guess myself, I want to stop.

This is the messy middle. Goal setting and working towards a goal are two different activities.

The goal of National Novel Writing Month is to write 50,000 words; as o this writing, I just went over 25k, I am halfway through. I do frequently run into situations where people hit the messy middle and want to quit. Today I want to give you some tips to make it through the messy middle and hit your goals.

Tip One- Don’t quit! Pause, Listen to the story you are telling yourself and reflect.
The reason you need to reflect is that at one point, you set the goal, you made the commitment, that version of yourself believed that you could accomplish the goal you had. If you didn’t believe you could accomplish your goal, then you would not have set it. This is the voice that needs to be helping you navigate the messy middle. I will call this The Supportive Self. Call the Supportive Self up, and I am pretty sure the Supportive Self will tell you to start back up and keep writing.

Tip Two- Delay-. Cutting yourself off cold turkey may be too hard, so let’s implement this tactic- Delay. Analyze your time and how you spend it; what can you delay? For example, can you delay watching your favorite show? Can you delay a social media post? Can you delay that extra shopping trip? Write your words, then do your activity after it is over. This way, your pastime can be a reward for accomplishing your daily writing goal.

Tip 3. – Set a daily word count goal until Nov 30th! Try this exercise set aside 16 minutes or 30 minutes during the day. See how many words you can write in that time. Whatever the number is, that is what you will do each day. You have 10 minutes each day.

Tip 4- Do- Keep your promise to yourself- Make it your goal to write every day until Nov 30th. Even if you don’t make 50,000 words, at least you kept a promise that you made to yourself. Imagine this, if you allow yourself to make promises to yourself, and then you allow yourself to break them, You lose trust in yourself. Think about the close people you; do they have a habit of making promises and breaking them? If you do, at some point, a strain is put on the relationship. In the most extreme cases, it leads to betrayal, which leads to fractured, broken relationships.

I am sure that you don’t want a fractured, broken relationship with yourself, so keep the promises you make.

3 thoughts on “Making it through the Messy Middle

  1. Hey Steven, It’s been great to follow your tips for getting through Nano and to keep writing. Getting through that messy middle can be tough and these tips will help refocus when needed.
    This post has such a powerful ending as you’re right, none of us want a fractured, broken relationship with ourselves. We know how hard it is to rebuild trust with others, it is probably even harder to trust ourself.

  2. Thanks, Steven. The timing on this is perfect. I really hit the wall this week and it got bumpy. I’m rewriting my book for NaNoWriMo so the word count is not all brand new words. But I really didn’t like a lot of the stuff I had. I kept at it and found that some of the things The Resistance was surfacing become material for the book. Interesting stuff!

  3. I’m impressed that you’re sticking with NaNoWriMo, having tried it myself I know that the early enthusiasm wanes in the middle. Then if you fall behind it becomes even more difficult to maintain the enthusiasm to proceed.

    I like your tips:
    1. Remember why you signed up. Get back a taste of the hope and energy you had when you made the commitment.
    2. Rather than tell yourself to cut out the bits of your life that are getting in the way, tell yourself you are delaying them. You aren’t depriving yourself, you’re saving them for later.
    3. If I understand this right, you are saying to experiment with how many words you can write in the time you allocate each day, then commit to writing that many words in a day. Which ties into the last point.
    4. Write every day. That is the main promise we are making to ourselves, not the goal of 50,000 words. If you can’t manage 1666 words a day, or the 2000 or more if you’ve fallen behind, don’t worry about it. Do what you can. How many words can you achieve in a day? Do those, every day.

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