In the Middle of the Block

In the Middle of the Block

Lots has been said about getting started in a creative habit, or a creative project. Plenty has been written about finishing what you start and what happens after you get something done. What about how you do the middle bits?

It seems trite to say you just keep going. That’s obvious but logical, only there’s more to it. There’s understanding that the feeling of being in the middle of a thing vacillates back and forth between flow and floundering.

Flow is the state of losing yourself in the work. It’s being “in the zone.” Stephen King, in Misery, calls it falling through “the hole in the paper.” What you’re after is to recognize that feeling and try to find it as often as you can. It’s a weird kind of addiction, but constructive, not destructive. It’s something that sustains us through the middle bit.

Floundering is the opposite feeling. It’s anxiety, overthinking, awareness of what you’re doing. It’s a state where you’re unsure and searching. It’s actually potentially useful, because it’s where you can take in the big picture and see where you’ve been and where you might want to go. Nothing is all or nothing where creative work is concerned. It’s constantly moving and changing.

I mean, deal with it. And enjoy this part, because it’s where you spend the most time. The journey isn’t just the reward, it’s the part of life where you’re living.


PS The title is a reference to this They Might Be Giants cover of a song by Vic Mizzy.

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