Whenever you start a new nonfiction writing project, it can be a thrilling time. You’ve come up with the most incredible idea and you envision the marvelous story you’re about to tell, full of dazzling insights, with an ending that will cause readers to become breathless with amazement, dizzy with excitement, in complete and utter awe of your talent!
You may know exactly which anecdote, statistic or quote will create the best beginning to draw in readers, and you may also know the final point that needs to be made. But, what about the middle?
If you find that your article begins to drag and your enthusiasm starts to wane once you get into the core of the topic, you’re not alone. I do know one writer, by the way, who seldom needed to revise once she’d written something. (Note: I knew ONE writer who was like that!) She would write very slowly, but what she wrote was usually publication ready. If you’re like that, then the muddle is the middle simply needs more patience.
However, I don’t have the patience to write that way. In fact, I write in layers, getting one draft down, and then reviewing it multiple times to see how it can be improved. I find that, once I have the first draft of an article or blog post down in writing (or nonfiction book, for that matter), the process becomes much more enjoyable. I play around with various revisions until I’m satisfied with what I’ve written.
Here are some tips to regain momentum, to get past the muddle in the middle to the point where you can tweak and edit and refine.
- First, realize that there is no one right way to tell any story. There can be ways that are more effective and ways that are less effective, but there are always options. It can take some experimentation to find out which is which. And that’s okay! Get that first draft down and then start experimenting.
- To make that happen, you may need to give yourself permission to write a less-than-stellar first draft. Perfectionism is often at the core of the slowdown in the middle.
Okay. So, now what?
- If you shudder at the thought of making an outline . . . you’re not alone. The last outline that I made with Roman numerals was whenever one was last required by a teacher. But consider cutting and pasting your notes in a way that makes the article begin to take shape, creating an informal outline that moves you ahead in the writing process. Whatever steps you take at this point are only preliminary and can be changed later on, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
- If you find yourself wanting the perfect quote in a key section of a blog post or article, but don’t have it yet, don’t let that slow you down. Simply type “put perfect quote here” in red text and then move on. Just don’t forget to GET that quote and put it into your text.
As you follow these steps, you should break out of your deadlock. Remember what strategies worked for you so that you can repeat your magic formula in the future.
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