(Okay, so this is my chihuahua and her name is Lion.
She kinda goes with this post... right?
Okay. Fine. She doesn't.
I couldn't;t find any actual lions in my neighbourhood to take pictures of.
I can't imagine where they all went.
I really just put this photo of my dog up cause she's cute.)
There are lions in writing.
Yeah, I know. You thought being a writer was a safe if not sedentary pursuit involving no plane jumping, ab sailing, one handed, 360, back flips or any other display of extreme sportsmanship. Until recently I would have agreed with you, and then I reached the mid way point of my latest manuscript. Imagine my surprise when there before me was a lion. A big mother of a beast complete with snarls and claws and general don't mess-with-me attitude.
My lion also has another name. Self doubt.
All of a sudden my story kinda... sucked. I questioned the POV I'd chosen, the MC seemed thin and cardboardish. The supporting characters seemed less supporting and more, say, jeering. Never mind that I'd spent thousands of words with these fine paper individuals, I didn't know them anymore. What were they going to do? Where were they going to do it? And what on god's white paper earth was the motivation behind what they would doing? I'd lost all track of plot, even though I'd spent time outlining. I was not longer confident that what I'd outlined was what should happen.
I am sure this has never happened to you... but I was scared. The problem if I am honest, wasn't even the writing. It was me. And my Lion.
When lions prowl.
There comes a point in most books, and I'm guessing midway is common lion fighting ground, where a writer has to confront the beast of self doubt.
The lion that stares you down and dares you to take it on.
It's not the same as the fears that existed before you began the book. You've faced them, or you wouldn't be halfway through. See, in someways it's easy to believe you'll write a great story before you've started. But half way through?
Half way through you are confronted by the reality of your own imperfections. You've had time to notice that your wrestling with words, that the plot holes has holes and time to get spooked about fixing them. You've also had time to see through your vague fantasies of this first draft being wonderful; it is living up to its name as a First Draft and will need major editing and re-writing. And you aren't even done yet!
That's when the lion prowls.
Killing this lion is all about the ability to face the uncertainty of the second half.
"I used to hate uncertainty, but I'm learning to love it. It's an acquired taste." ~ Mark Batterson
Your book, like all books, has to end. Keep writing and it will. Let things play out in your work. See where the plot leads or what the characters whisper. Go back to the outline and consider the possibilities. Embrace the uncertainty of the second half of writing a book. So the book is not everything you thought it was going to be. So what? So you are an imperfect writer who will need to revise. Big deal. Aren't we all?
Make a choice about the direction of the second half, any choice, and write on. Accept that you will second guess yourself no matter what you chose and write anyway.
The lion wins if you don't finish the book.
Nothing will end a career sooner than 23 unfinished books by a writer who's lost all belief that he ever could. Get to the end and produce what every writer should celebrate.
A FIRST DRAFT! In all it's ugly glory. Because a first draft is the product of lion killing.
And you thought writing was for wimps?
Well... what are you doing? Don't hang around here. Go kill your lions!