There are a variety of stages when writing a book. One of the most interesting times is the “Approach of the Midpoint”.
Being that I am a meticulous outliner – that’s just my novel writing style – it’s a curious time for me. (BTW, not all authors frame their books the same way. In fact, some authors just start slamming away at the keyboard, starting at page 1, penning no outline at all. However, I’ve also heard that those authors also toss away hundreds of pages of work because it by the time they find the plot, the soul of the characters, and so on, so much has changed from where they started that they have to dive back in and start dumping work. To each their own, I guess.)
The Approach of the Midpoint is exciting because it’s when I can really start to smell blood in the water. It’s been said before that writing a novel is like eating an elephant and the only way to do it is one bite at a time. The more books I write, the more I believe in that statement. However, as I approach the midpoint of a book, I start to eat a little faster.
See, the midpoint represents a turning point. I’d venture to say that if you go back and de-construct many of your favorite books, you’d see that somewhere about the halfway point of the story, there was a spin, a twist, a moment which snapped and sent things sailing forward into a new and powerful direction. As a writer, once you approach this moment, you know that the snowball has just begun to descend down the bigger mountainside and if things are set up well, the next stretch of writing is going to be spent with momentum gaining, the snowball building, and a full head o’ steam a gaining.
It”s quite an exciting time, too, because you think about your book more and more and more throughout the day. Brushing your teeth. Driving in traffic. Reading other books and articles. And each time you get the opportunity to work on your own book some more, it becomes even more exciting and fun.
I once heard a story that Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, The Andromeda Strain, ER tv show and more), when he hit the midpoint of his books, would start getting up earlier and earlier to work on them. I guess a regular workday began around 9 for him, but then it would begin at 8. And then, as he crossed into the the 3/4 of his book, 7:00 am. And then, when he was heading for the home stretch, 6, then 5, then 4:00 am.
I’ll never forget reading an interview where he said was getting up at like 3:00 a.m. because writing and finishing the book would just consume him. He said that during this time, he was an absolute lout to live with and that his new novels would just entirely take over his life.
Me, I have been known to stay up until 3 (even when I had to be up by 5:30) because of “the fever”. But “the fever” rarely happens – at least for me – until I cross the midpoint.
And now I am approaching that with my next book. And in my blood, I am starting to feel the bubbles percolate. All writers are different, but all writers are human and I have a feeling that seasoned fiction writers each have that time, that point where they see the light at the end of the tunnel, when the work just takes a center stage role in you life in a way that becomes consumptive.
It’s almost a sickness. Almost unhealthy. But it’s a bender I really do love.