From 2011-2012, I had the opportunity to live in England for one year as a writer for a non-profit. It was an incredible opportunity, one of those life-shaping milestones I will never forget. However, during that year, it wasn’t all peaches and cream. I had some challenging times, and especially right in the middle, I remember wondering if I truly had the guts to stick it out and finish the year strong.
During those middle months, an image came to mind. This is the meat in the sandwich, I thought. The first part of this year was like squishy white bread, glamorous and fun, and the very end will probably feel the same as I prepare to go home, but this is the meat. I am walking through the important stuff right now.
It’s the same with writing. Michael Hyatt refers to it as “the messy middle.” When you’ve set goals and you’re in the process of achieving them, things get real, and things get tough. Anything worth doing is not easy.
In writing, you’ll confront “the messy middle” in a few different ways:
1) Messy Project. This is not a surprise to most, but writing gets messy. We write stuff, we rip it to shreds, we rewrite it, we throw it away and we pull it back out of the trash to start the process again. I am in the mess right now as I am revising my novel. Don’t be afraid of it. The more determined you are to forge into your work, pull it to pieces and confront the problems, the more satisfying the final product will be.
2) Messy Life. In case you haven’t noticed, the world doesn’t stop so you can write. Life is messy and in the midst of the mess, we have to find those small spaces to make art. Besides, when we ignore or try to banish the mess, we are pushing away the very stuff that inspires a lot of our work to begin with.
3) Messy Emotions. You will falter. You will doubt. Guaranteed. As Michael Hyatt says, the most important thing in forging through the messy middle is to hold on to the why. If you have a firm grasp on why you are pursuing the writing life, your will conquers your weakness. Every time.
“Starting is the fun part,” says Hyatt, “But the middle’s where you make it happen.”
This is where it counts in your writing. Don’t give up. How are you forging through the mess in the middle of your writing journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments!