Stuck in the Swampy Middle

Climbing Novel Mountain – Day 17

I feel stuck today. I just finished the beginning hook of my novel, so I am about 25% through. In true form of starting the middle of a book, I immediately feel like I am slogging through a swamp. Jim Butcher calls it the Swampy Middle.

It is an apt description as every sentence feels like I have to pull my foot out of the bog to take the next step. Swampy middle also feels like a deviation from climbing a mounting. Mixing metaphors here. But at the same time it feels like half the mountain could very well be a swamp. So what’s up with that?

I think for one thing, I have been sick a few times in the last few weeks. So I feel like I lost some momentum. But I also feel like I am just not ready to embark on the middle. It is so vast and I am not sure I can make it through. I have a rough map of my way through, but a map is different than the actual terrain. It is more of a guess. I will have to adapt and modify and improvise as I go along.

I find myself growing more interested in working on different projects. I’ll go back to my last novel and finish editing that. Or start on the next project. I have a cool idea that is festering in my mind. I will definitely be more inspired if I do that.

One thing that keeps coming to my mind is something Steven Pressfield says in the War of Art. He basically says that the worse resistance gets, the more you know you are on the right path.

So in a way, I feel comforted. I am on the right path. But knowing I am on the right path isn’t going to get me through the swampy middle. Granted, walking through a swamp only to find out I wasn’t even going the right direction would be a waste of time and energy. So knowing I am on the right path is helpful in that I know my energy won’t be wasted. But it doesn’t seem like enough.

The last few days, I have been feeling resistance on a broader scale too. This morning in particular, I find myself thinking that this whole writing endeavor is stupid. Who am I to think that I could write a good story? What if I fail? What if my stories suck and no one wants to read them? If I can’t find the determination to write the middle of my book, how is anyone going to be interested in reading it?

I guess I will just have to trust in resistance. The incredible weight of resistance tells me I am on the right track. I will choose to trust it. And I will continue to slog through the swampy middle, hoping against hope that I find some inspiration along the way.

One thought on “Stuck in the Swampy Middle

  1. It’s good to get perspective that none of us are alone in the resistance we face. And your mixed metaphor is familiar and helpful.


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