Being stuck in a certain place in your story is different than writer’s block. Writer’s block is a condition that paralyzes writers and prevents them from ever getting started in the first place, or derails them so completely they can never finish that first draft. But being stuck is more like running your car off the road into the mud. You know it’s possible to get out of it, but it still feels like a big messy unpleasant obstacle in your creative life.
Right now, I am stuck. I am just about in the middle of the last quarter of my novel, and I am most definitely in the mud. Things were going so well up until now. I was writing consistently every week and my plot and characters were moving along at a good clip. And then, I hit this wall. I got…stuck.
As a writing coach who works almost exclusively with Highly Sensitive Writers, I hear the same phrases from a lot of different clients. “I’m an introvert, so I hate putting myself out there.” “I’m not that assertive.” “I prefer to stay in the background.” All these statements might be true in one way or another, but the reasons behind the statements tend to remain vague to most people, even if they are the introvert in question.
Even though the introvert awareness movement has made incredible gains for introverts over the past few years, most of us still struggle with limiting beliefs around what it means to actually be introverted. We might be out and loud and proud about NOT being extroverts, but at times we still assume that to be an introvert means that, basically, we are shy. And shy people don’t like the spotlight. So, when we try to put our finger on exactly what it is about marketing that makes us feel so, well, turned off by the whole process, we usually retreat back to this assumption. We are introverts, and therefore, we don’t want to call attention to ourselves. Because on some level, we are just plain shy.
Sometimes I feel like I’m in the unique position of having my fingers on the collective pulse of writers today. I talk to unbelievable amounts of writers every week. Some of them are my clients, some of them are new people thinking about becoming a client, and some of them are completely random strangers from the internet who email me to talk about writing. I talk to sci-fi writers and memoirists and bloggers and romance novelists and everything in between.
The thing that always astounds me is that almost every single one of these writers, sooner or later, brings the same problem to me.
Every time I embark on writing a new novel, it’s like total amnesia sets in about the last time I wrote a novel. The beginning is incredibly fun. The characters are fresh and new and interesting. They’re the irresistibly charismatic people I’ve just met at a party who I want to talk to all night. The story itself is intriguing. I can’t wait to find out what’s really going on and how it all turns out. Eagerly, I set to work and I just know it, this is going to be the best book I’ve ever written.
And then…I hit the middle.