The Half-Way Blues

by Michelle Griep

I like jazz when it has a tune to it. Something I can whistle along with. A melody I can listen to even when the music isn’t playing because it’s captured inside my head.

The jazz I don’t like is the crazy zig-jiggidy sort. The kind that’s unpredictable. Saxophones wailing like banshees getting an enema. Bass’s that thump up, down, and sideways on a semi-scale. The kind of jazz where the notes don’t mean anything, and they certainly don’t stay within the boundaries of something I can hum along to. It’s just noise.

But doggone if that same effect doesn’t happen to my writing sometimes, usually around the half-way mark of a manuscript. The beginning was a big honeymoon love fest. Creating new characters. Setting the plot into action. The end is where all the flash-bang fireworks explode across the novelly sky. These things have a rhythm, a quick-paced rat-a-tat-tat.

Then there’s the middle. That’s where things get squiggy. Usually this is when panic sets in and you consider flipping burgers at McDonalds instead of finishing the manuscript. That’s followed by self-loathing. 

And then it really gets ugly.

What to do? How to push past the roadblock of my-writing-sucks-with-a-side-of-sucky-sauce? Have I got a handy dandy list for you . . .

The 3 R’s to Regain Your Writerly Self-Esteem


Air is good. No, really. Take some deep breaths. See what you’re doing? Your doing what every human being does, and that’s exactly what you need to realize. Not the breathing part per se. You are doing something just like every other author out there on the planet: dealing with doubt. You are not alone in this. You are normal. And guess what? This, too, shall pass . . . kind of like a kidney stone.


Take a moment to remember all of your accomplishments up to this point. Chances are there are quite a few. Clearly you are not a loser, so quit lying to yourself. Even if you’re not an award-winning author-o-maniac, if you’ve simply written half a manuscript, hey, that’s more than most people accomplish. Read what other writers or readers have said about your writing. Soak in the encouragement that’s been offered to you in the past.


Drafting a story drains the ever-loving creative juices right out you. Sweet mercy! If only it burned calories half as fast. It’s important to keep the inspirational embers glowing red-hot. Now is the time to buy that mp3 on Amazon you’ve been wanting, pick up one of your favorite author’s books, or cough up the cash for tickets to that theater production that’s in town. Sometimes to keep your creativity from going bankrupt you’ve got to borrow some from others.

Remember, the only way out of these doldrums is through, and the only way through is to write, even if–especially if–you think your words are steaming piles of literary manure. Sure, some of them might be, but odds are they’re not all. 

Author Michelle Griep


Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.