The Extreme Discomfort of the Middle

The Extreme Discomfort of the Middle

The middle is the absolute worst place to be; in writing, in creating, in editing. But it is also the best place to be. This is truly the way to tell if you love what you do. If in the centre, in the in-between, you still love what you do – then you know you truly are meant to be doing it.

The feeling of twisting angst, and resistance that you feel while in the midst of creating can be a difficult feeling to overcome. Here are three ways to deal with the extreme discomfort of the middle:

#1. Celebrate success:
When you’re in the middle, it is very easy to only focus on the way out, narrowing your vision so that you only see the long road ahead of you. So it can be helpful to look back, and see just how far you’ve already come. Celebrating success, and feeling gratitude for the work you’ve already done, can give you more motivation to press forward.

#2. Little by little:
I am an ‘all or nothing’ sort of person, so it can be quite difficult for me to break what seems like an arduous task into smaller, more manageable pieces. It’s something I’ve been working on, and I have to say that it has changed my perspective greatly to do a little bit at a time. When you’re in the middle, instead of looking to the very end as the goal, set smaller finish lines for yourself.

A good analogy for this is biking up a tough hill. It hurts my heart to look up at the top of the hill, and imagine just how much effort it will take to get to the end. But I’ve found if I put my head down, and focus on what I’m doing in the moment, instead of the effort I imagine it will take, that the hill becomes considerably less arduous. The same is true in my writing. When I’m in the middle, I cannot allow myself to think about getting to the end. Instead I focus on finishing my next 1000 words, and that is it. This practice makes me feel much more successful when I accomplish this small step.

#3. Focus on the process:
Every time I feel bogged down by how much work I have left, I remind myself that this feeling is because I am too focused on the product, and not the process. Obviously, as authors, we need to spend some time thinking about the product (especially since we’re hoping people will buy that product!) but this is extremely unhelpful to the writing process. If you truly love writing, then enjoy it while you’re in the thick of it. For me, reframing the middle to remind myself that I still have some wonderful writing that I get to do, greatly eases the discomfort of the middle.

How else do you navigate the extreme discomfort of the middle? Tell me in the comments below!

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