Are you right in the middle of writing your novel and have realised that you may have bitten off more than you can chew? Maybe, you started of as a pantser and it really isn't going well, or perhaps your story is spinning out of control and you feel the need to start again. You may be suffering from Mid-Novel Syndrome and you are not alone. This is very common, especially for the type of work we do. However, you do not need to give up on your WIP! You just need to change your perspective and try out these tips.
It is the feeling that, despite all the work you have done for your novel, you haven't moved from the middle part of your book for as long as you can remember. You have a sinking and horrible overwhelming feeling that you have so much more to write but you are perpetually running around in circles. Also, you may be contemplating changing your plot for the millionth time which makes you feel like you are standing still and it makes you not want to work on it at all.
I have been experiencing Mid-Novel Syndrome lately and as I was talking to some people online about it I realised that it was a very typical thing that happens to writers. Over the last few months, I have realised that there are a lot of things about my book which have been gnawing at me and for the last year I have been pushing those feelings aside to "keep writing". Recently, I have been forced to confront these issues because I realised I could not write like this because:
- It would be very difficult for me to know what was happening if the concept of the story changed all the time; and
- It would make for more editing later and I would essentially be writing the whole book all over again.
Things I Have Learned
- Your fears and concerns about your novels are legitimate, and indeed it may direct you to some essential floors that you are ignoring. If the nagging feeling is constantly about the same elements of your book and has been lasting for quite a while, chances are that you have mid-novel syndrome.
- Addressing Mid-Novel Syndrome and the issues in your story will mean that you will have to have the right attitude. Do not think of this as a daunting task or that you are a bad writer for allowing this to happen. In doing this and being negative you are dooming yourself to failure. You need to think of it as a good thing, because it actually is! This experience has alerted you to problems which you can fix and will lead to a better novel! It is better you address this now and not later. If you keep ignoring these issues, it could be these details which a publisher or agent may reject your book.
- You need a support system of writers behind you at these times in order to give you confidence and drive you to continue with your novel. Having people to be accountable to such as friends, family and other writers will make you want to continue on.
- Your story deserves to get told and by making you address these problems it is telling you that it too wants the world to read it. Be confident about your work, you are a great writer!
How To Combat Mid-Novel Syndrome
Step 1: Write It Down
In order to give this a proper go, you must write down all the issues you are having with your plot no matter how big or how small. If you don't do this you won't be able to address everything you need to do because in your mind you have a scale of how big and important these issues are and you will only focus on the bigger ones. Little by little those small issues will become big ones and you will have to start this process all over again. Take it from my experience, I did not write a list and now I have changed my plot three times in the last two months. I am currently doing my third round of changes (which is what spurred this post) so I beg you to not make the same mistakes that I have done in the past.
Step 2: Order Them Into Highest to Lowest Importance
This is a typical thing that people do in their everyday lives and in work situations. You have to organise and prioritise your tasks in order to get them done. Once you have done this, choose the first four issues and label them on separate pieces of paper. My old boss taught me this, she would always write down her tasks for the day but would restrict that days activities to only the few most pressing. Then if she got through all of those she would address the others. Doing this gives you focus and provides you with direction. You will find if you try to tackle them all at once you will sit there not knowing what to do or where to start and you will feel overwhelmed.
Step 3: Extrapolate On The Issues
On that piece of paper where you wrote the title of your issue, use as much space as you like to extrapolate on the problem. You now have free reign to write anything you want about it, you can do it in point form or you can do it in long hand. Don't forget to give yourself examples in your plot where the issue arises or remind yourself of instances you did it correctly.
Step 4: Propose solutions
On that same paper, or collection of papers relating to the issue you are addressing, start outlining possible methods to fix the situation. For instance, splitting your standalone novel into a series, changing the romantic relationship between characters, fixing your ending or cutting out characters.
Step 5: Make a plan
Once you have done this for all of your issues, take a look at all of the proposed fixes. Some will be easy while others will be hard. You need to start thinking about a plan of attack now and write it down. Take care to group the similar fixes together and note down which ones will be easier to address after the main issues are done. You can also allocate importance to various tasks as you did above. Ultimately, there is nothing I can tell you on how to go about making a plan. You do it any way you wish. Just keep it to a small number of tasks at a time and even take a break from writing until it is done.
Good luck! Hopefully this has helped you either realise that you are suffering from Mid-Novel Syndrome or has set you on the path to addressing your problems. Let me know what you think about this syndrome and your tips for getting over it!