No matter who you are, self-doubt creeps in at times. As a writer, I’ve recently been grappling with what’s known as the “muddy middle” of my first novel. The term refers to a spot authors find themselves in when they are having trouble propelling the story forward, usually about halfway through.
In this wasteland of self-doubt, nothing seems quite right. I question whether I should scrap the project. Feelings of inadequacy loom. The inner-critic lingers and whispers all sorts of unkind words into my ears.
Who do you think you are?
Stop this silly dream, and get your head out of the clouds.
Do you really believe you’ll finish this and publish it?
This can happen with any endeavor. A home project, business endeavor, degree program–anything is fair game. At the outset, we’re excited and motivated and then veer off into the swamp of self-doubt.
My inner critic is cruel and harsh. Actually, it’s much harsher than anyone on the outside. This inner battle happens often–to aspiring people and successful people alike.
Since it’s my first go-around writing a book, I feel especially mired in the muck and mess of my own work. At first, I was eager and excited to get my story underway. My sails were full of wind. Then I hit the doldrums.
The joy of the beginning becomes the pain in the middle.
When this happens, we have two choices. Give up or press on. It’s that simple. We must either admit defeat or claw our way to the finish line. One of the ways we can pull ourselves together and move forward is to do something unexpected–choose to harness the power of the inner critic.
I published an article on the topic last year. Now that I’ve launched an author website and have found myself in the “muddy middle” of my novel, it seems an ideal time to revisit the article and share it with you. Click the photo or caption below to read it for free.
No matter what project you’re pursuing, I encourage you to ditch self-doubt and remember that you are uniquely equipped and gifted. Whatever seeds we plant simply require us to water and nourish them. All things in good time.
The more we do so, the deeper the roots become. Eventually, we harvest what we’ve patiently tended. When our aspirations wilt, we must perk them up with fresh efforts and a renewed attitude. Chin up, feet forward.
Self-doubt is normal. What makes us extraordinary is how we choose to respond to it. Press on, friends.
Tracy is a New Jersey writer who loves Earl Grey tea, spending time outside, and painting. She lives with her husband and children in a home where birdsong and rainstorms provide the soundtrack for her creative life.