Many humans are afraid of making choices – and I don’t blame them. I sometimes freeze up over some simple choice and can’t decide in the least what I want.
When it comes to writing, making choices can be really easy, or absolutely terrifying.
There are sometimes points where we know that we have to make a choice. But it’s a big choice, and one that will affect our life for a long time. I could literally just use the above GIF again to illustrate us running away screaming from that kind of pressure.
When you decide to write a book, it’s a choice that will affect your life for quite a while. Stories consume your mind. You think about them constantly. And it takes months to write these things – sometimes years. Not to mention how much more work will have to be done if you want to publish them.
So when you get bored or, worse, miserable while writing a story… you might not feel like writing it anymore. You’ll find yourself in doubt: Is this just me getting bored with the middle? Or is this actually a boring story?
There’s a big decision to be made.
Should you continue writing this story?
Or should you put it down for now?
It’s a big decision. Some magical people can make this sort of choice easily, but a lot of the time, writers will melt into a puddle of tears instead.
So how can we make this decision without any tears involved?
Following Your Head
The biggest thing about making these choices is that it’s not just your head involved. You can think logically and be like, “Hey, I should finish this story!”
And the rest of you will just go, “That’s a great idea. But how about no. lol.”
It’s really weird when you know is that you should do a thing, but the rest of you is screaming that you’re going to be miserable if you do.
Following Your Heart
When you decide to pull a Disney Princess and follow your heart-
-it might not actually go over that well with your head.
The thing is about just following your heart is that it might not be the right choice.
Which just complicates things even more.
The thing about trying to make a decision is that you have to have balance between the two.
You don’t want to be miserable, but you also want to be smart.
So how do you make a decision you will be happy with while getting both head and heart to be satisfied?
Step 1: Let it sit.
So when you are in the moment and feeling all the feels, you can get caught up in it all, and quite potentially make the choice based only on how you feel in the moment.
So the best thing you can do is let it sit for a few days. This isn’t you deciding what to have for breakfast. It’s a big decision, whether to continue writing your current book or not, and this should take you a bit of time to decide. By letting it sit for a few days, you can assess the situation better and also try to decide how you feel about it. That allows there to be that balance we just talked about.
Step 2: Don’t just look for a miracle.
A way to decide is probably not just going to magically fall into your lap. After letting it sit for a bit, you’ve got to think it through. And no, that does not mean to just use your head about it. You’ve got to take into consideration the things you have been feeling recently over this story. That means thinking about how you’ve been feeling recently when you write it, or when you think about writing it, or just in the time you’ve been letting this sit.
The thing is, if you’re in the middle of a book and you really are not enjoying writing it, this could just be a case of the muddy middle. That is more in reference to how the middle of a story can often become unclear (hence the ‘muddy’ part) but I also like to apply it to when writers themselves become lost while writing it. Once we hit that middle part of the story, where we’re settled into the world and we’ve introduce the characters and they’re off on their adventure, but it’s still not the midpoint where things start to get more intense and interesting… that’s where I think it happens.
Not only have you been writing this for a bit now (therefore making the new ‘shiny object’ lose its lustre a little) but you are at what is probably the single most boring chunk of the book. Therefore, you will probably get bored and not really enjoy writing. And this is where you might start to consider dropping it. 😱
You might press on in denial for a few days, but eventually, it does come to this decision making. So make sure you don’t just wait for your already-made-decision to fall into your lap from the heavens.
Step 3: Time to make the choice.
The first place to start with making the actual decision is by identifying whether this is a case of the muddy middle or not. The best way to do this is by thinking of the big picture.
Right now, your mind is focused on the now, on seeing how much you just don’t feel like writing this story and how you want to go after that shiny new idea that’s been calling to you recently.
(or maybe that’s just me? ahahaha…) In fact, it’s possible that because you’ve been so focused on the now, that you’ve made a mountain out a molehill.
When you are a plotter, you can easily look at the big picture by looking at your outline. What is going to happen? At one point, you thought that this was going to be the best book ever, so your plot line should probably be pretty awesome.
Now that the shiny object syndrome has faded, though, you might be able to see the outline with new eyes. You’ll find one of two things:
- You might find it’s not as great as you thought, and needs to be set aside for now until you can do a better job with this book.
- Or you might find that it actually is pretty epic and you should definitely push through this muddy middle.
If you are a pantser, and therefore outline-less, think of how you want this book to end. Is this definitely something you should continue pursuing? If you don’t know how your book is going to end (and that is a subject that really should have a post all on its own) then it’s quite possible you will never finish a book.
But another way to determine if you should continue writing or not (and this is probably the biggest reason that will affect your decision) is what your why is for this story. Why are you writing this book? What message do you want to share with the world that will be told through the characters in this story? And how important is it to you to share? If the answer is that it’s important, then you should probably continue with this story. Your why is why
(you see what I did there?) (I’m so sorry) you’ll be able to push through these moments where you aren’t sure you can’t. Which, again, is a post in itself. But this post is already getting kind of long, so we’ll have to just go with this 1-paragraph version.
And there you have it! 3 pretty simple steps on how to decide whether to continue writing your book or not.
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Do you ever have trouble with making choices?
Have you ever stopped writing a book in the middle of it?
What do you like to do when you don’t feel like writing a book anymore?