Feb 15, 2010

The Halfway Mark by Gillian Polack

Every time I reach the halfway mark in a novel (writing, not reading!) I find it a struggle to continue. I have talked to many other writers about this, and quite a few of them have the same difficulty. So how do you get past the half-way hump when you know exactly how to write the rest of the thing and it just won’t happen?

I use several techniques. Firstly, I set myself a wordcount. It doesn’t matter if the words are garbage, I write 100 or 300 or 500 or 2000 words a day until I’m writing enthusiastically again. I allocate extra time for editing this section, of course, since garbage needs to be got rid of, but editing is way more satisfying than never finishing the project in the first place.

What else do I do? I use my favourite TV programs and say I have to write a certain amount before I’m allowed to watch them.

Sometimes I follow Geoffrey Blainey’s advice and finish the day’s work mid sentence. I have no excuse for not finishing sentences even on my worst days, so that gives me the impetus to write again. I set myself a deadline and I finish the thing by that deadline (I love deadlines).

The other thing I do is take time out. Proper time out. I don’t worry about the novel or nag myself about it. I do something I’ve needed to do or wanted to do. I take a holiday or buy some gourmet chocolate or go to the movies with friends. Then I sue the other techniques to revv up again.

The big thing is I always finish. The middle of novels are always a bit of a dire zone for me, but I always, always get through them. Sometimes it takes every single measure I can think of to make it happen, but happen it does.

I am Gillian Polack. I answer mainly to Gillian, but also to Dr Polack, Ms Polack, Miss Polack and "Hey, you". I sometimes answer to "Gillian Pollack" because people simply can't seem to get my name right. 'Polack' is not an insult in Australia and it is most definitely the correct spelling of my surname. I live in the centre of the known universe (Canberra, ACT, Australia).

I write, I think, I serve on committees, I teach. I am passionate about people, about books, about history.

I talk a lot. I dream a lot. The Middle Ages sneaks into my dreaming, and so does speculative fiction. Cooking sneaks onto my waistline.

I am not terribly fond of writing web pages about myself (I really prefer inventing stuff fictional - truth is such a shaky proposition sometimes), so I really want to say upfront that Tamara Mazzei is responsible for this being here and me having written it. She also tweaked it for me when it looked like a dog's breakfast.

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