Welcome, fellow creators, to “Dear ChatGPT,” your go-to column for all things writing and creativity!
As part of this regular series, I’ll be teaming up with my AI sidekick, ChatGPT, to tackle the tough questions you have about writing, inspiration, and the creative process. Our mission is to provide you with thoughtful advice that helps you navigate the fascinating world of words and imagination.
Each week I’ll be asking ChatGPT a question related to writing, creativity, art, or related topics and sharing those responses with you. You can find the entire Dear ChatGPT series of posts here.
Have a question you’d like to ask? Email me at email@example.com!
My question for this week was about getting stuck in the middle of projects, something I’ve been struggling with for a long time. I hope this conversation helps you if you find yourself stuck in the middle, too.
ME: Can you help me figure out why I might always stop writing a project at around a third of the way through? Is there some sort of hurdle around that point that makes me unable to push through?
GPT-4: It’s not uncommon for writers to experience a slowdown or block at a certain point during their projects. Here are some possible reasons why you might be facing this hurdle around the one-third mark:
- Loss of initial excitement: When starting a project, the excitement and novelty of the idea can propel you forward. However, as the project progresses, the initial excitement may wane, making it harder to maintain momentum.
- Unclear direction: If you don’t have a well-defined plan or outline for your project, it can be challenging to know how to move the story forward after the initial setup. This can lead to a sense of being stuck or lost around the one-third mark.
- Difficulty with the middle: Many writers find the middle of a story to be the most challenging part to write. The beginning and the end often come more naturally, but the middle can be harder to navigate, as it requires maintaining tension and pacing while developing characters and plotlines.
- Fear of failure or perfectionism: Some writers may subconsciously stop themselves from progressing further in their project out of fear that they won’t be able to do justice to their idea or that their work won’t be good enough. This can lead to a self-imposed block.
- Burnout: Writing can be mentally and emotionally draining, and if you’re pushing yourself too hard, you may be experiencing burnout. Taking a break or focusing on self-care can help you regain your motivation and energy.
To overcome this hurdle, try the following:
- Create a detailed outline or roadmap for your story, breaking it down into smaller, manageable sections.
- Set realistic goals and deadlines for yourself to maintain a consistent writing schedule.
- Give yourself permission to write a less-than-perfect first draft. Remember that you can always revise and improve your work later.
- Break the project into smaller milestones and celebrate your achievements along the way to maintain motivation.
- Seek feedback from others, such as writing groups, friends, or beta readers, to gain new perspectives and ideas to help you move forward.
Remember that writing is a process, and it’s normal to experience ups and downs along the way. The key is to be persistent, remain open to learning and growth, and believe in yourself and your ability to tell your story.
I don’t usually suffer from unclear direction, but the other reasons ChatGPT suggested fit me like a glove. I’m the kind of person who comes up with a million ideas and then immediately start to dig in, losing steam very quickly as the initial excitement fades. Fear of perfection is huge for me (I’m an INFJ enneagram 3 and I’ve always struggled with this). And figuring out what’s going on in the middle is a place I’d really like to improve as a writer.
Here’s how I plan to continue the conversation with ChatGPT.
PROMPT: These are all problems I have to varying degrees, it’s true. I want to focus on the difficulty with the middle. Are there strategies that can help me figure out how to get through the middle better?
If you’re having trouble with your middles, why not ask ChatGPT for help like I did? Or, if you want other excellent resources that aren’t ChatGPT:
Dealing with writer’s block: On Writer’s Block by Victoria Nelson
Learn how to write from the middle: Write from the Middle by James Scott Bell
Get comfortable with shitty first drafts: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Check out this awesome pep talk from Neil Gaiman about how he always gets stuck at the same point: Pep Talk From Neil Gaiman
Please note that some of the links contained in this post may be affiliate links. When you click and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.
Want to learn more about writing fiction with ChatGPT? Check out my book, ChatGPT for Fiction Writing.