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How to Escape the Endless Middle of Life

The Endless Middle is the time between when you started your journey and making your dream come true. Let’s talk about shortening it.

Oren Cohen
Oren Cohen
6 min read
Photo: Licensed by The author on iStock.com

Being a content creator is a long journey. You set out to create something from nothing. To be a beacon of light in the darkness of ignorance. And most of the time, instead of lighthouses, we feel more like candles. And our wax is always running out.

As they often call it in novel writing advice, the Endless Middle is the large chunk of content between the beginning of a book and its ending. And the way to escape it is by facing it head-on — and advancing, constantly advancing, even in baby steps. We are all stories. Everything that we are is a story — it’s no surprise that writing advice could be life advice, too.

The problem begins when we don’t know how to bring a story to its conclusion. Let me show you what I mean.

I’m in the middle

There were a few times in my life when I found myself facing hardships. Instead of breaking down, I used to tell myself, “I’m in the middle.”

I read many fantasy novels in my time and got used to reading books of anywhere between 900–1500 pages. It’s no wonder people call my patience “legendary.”

And yet, for myself, I never found the patience to enjoy the process of content creation. I always had something to cross off a list. I was always fussing around and always bringing myself to the edge. That translated to either terrible sleep or horrible habits. It’s easy to justify eating lots of chocolate if you’re writing a piece while doing it. It’s food for the mind!

It’s also easy to tell yourself to put the clock to 6.30 AM, so you can do some stuff before your day job’s workday begins — but then you find yourself awake at 1 AM. A day that starts after only 5.30 hours of sleep — or less — is a horrible day.

“But, I’m in the middle,” I kept telling myself. “Soon enough, this will all be in the distant past. I’ll be free to pursue my dreams, and I will have created something.”

I wasn’t honest with myself. Losing sleep often can have a significant impact on your mental wellbeing, on your worldview, and your general happiness. And that’s not just my own experience — it’s a fact.

So, no. I couldn’t say I’m in the middle anymore because I didn’t know where I was going.

I was lost.

And Then Came The Mirror

Have you ever had those days when you look at something familiar and see it in a completely new light? That happened to me today with my face.

I looked in the mirror today before I hit the shower and saw an exhausted man looking back at me from the other side. Red eyes, dark circles, no smile. Where was my cheerful self?

It hit me at that moment that I can’t go on like this. I can’t keep on chasing a dream that sucks so much energy from me and makes me lose myself in the process.

Don’t get me wrong — I will never stop writing. That’s not going to change. But the way — the journey, if you will — will need to take on a new form. Perhaps on my way to my destination, it’s time to stop at a crossroads inn. Have a good meal. Sleep in a bed until fully rested. I’m not doing anyone any favors by treating myself like crap.

It was time to advance in small but healthy steps.

Knowing Your Limits

I can’t function if I don’t have a good night’s sleep. More so than others because I’m an HSP, and we do need our sleep to operate.

I have other vices like eating unhealthy and not drinking enough water, but I think the sleep one is the most severe.

It’s a vicious cycle for me. I don’t sleep well, so I snooze my alarm clock in the morning. I don’t get stuff done for my blog because I hit snooze, and I reluctantly prepare for my day job when I eventually get up. Then, I feel guilty after work, so I push myself to write or create content for social media and my blog. And what do you know? It’s 1 AM again.

If that were my daily cycle, I would be okay because I would feel like I’m getting stuff done. But it’s usually the day after that breaks me. I tell myself I’ll get things done, but I’m too tired, and I eventually watch Netflix or YouTube videos instead. And then I’m truly standing still. I have wasted a day. Unacceptable.

I can’t let that keep happening. In the past, I would have reasoned fixing the situation in a corporate manner — if it wastes time and is not productive — it needs to change. I don’t feel this way anymore.

Instead, this situation needs to change because I’m losing myself in the process. When I looked at myself in the mirror today — that person wasn’t me. That person was not how I live inside my head. That person resulted from me not realizing how my actions reflect in the world, my body, and relationships.

And if I keep doing that — I’m lost. Does that struggle sound familiar to you?

It’s the Little Things

Have you ever considered what it means for a content creator to receive a like or comment on the content they spent hours making? It’s divine. To know that someone is looking at your stuff and having them react to it, even in this basic form, it’s enrapturing.

But of course, you know this because you’re a content creator yourself. That’s why you’re here in the first place. But you’re also a consumer of other content creators’ content. Take this advice to heart — treat other content creators (or anyone, really) like how you would want people to treat you.

Those small actions can help decorate each content creator’s journey to becoming more than just the person with a dream.

It’s not just the actions of others, though. It’s also how you treat yourself.

Take Little Steps

A lot of content creators have a dream of having an income stream based on their creativity. Maybe you like to paint? Write? Sing?

It’s important to realize we can’t jump ahead in time to where we want to be. Maybe you have debt preventing you from living your life the way you want? For most of us in the rat race, losing our job to go full time into what we love to do is a massive risk that we can’t readily take.

So, take little steps.

I used to think that everything needed to happen simultaneously: my blog, income, and followers. They all needed to rise together for me to see success. But that’s not true.

When things didn’t work, I just gave up and drowned my thoughts in TV shows. But the truth was that I needed smaller expectations. For some writers I know, building their platform took years before they even saw traction. It’s creating a body of work that matters the most. If you want to be seen as either an expert or know a lot about a topic, you need to be credible about it. What is more authoritative for online writers than a hefty amount of pieces that show instead of telling?

Instead of chasing an undefined goal, I decided to define my success in a calculated way: I want to have 100 valuable posts on my blog. I’m currently somewhere between 30–40. Which means I’m 30–40% of the way to my goal. It’s attainable and easy to measure.

I can either write one blog post a week or write more when I’m able to. And while social media accounts have a part to play in all of this, I don’t think that will matter until I have a body of work to show to the world.

Defining your goals this way is how you escape the endless middle. You don’t jump to the end just like your characters won’t jump to the end. You attain small victories that compound on top of each other.

Conclusion

In this piece, I talked about the endless middle — a concept borrowed from novel writing advice when the writer doesn’t know how to move the story towards the conclusion. I put my struggle with this concept on display at the beginning of this post. Then, I showed how we relate to our characters this way, how it makes us feel when we see little successes and set healthy limits.

Then, we talked about the little steps that bring us ever closer to that conclusion or goal that we seek.

So, now all that’s left is to go out and do it. Tell me, what’s a smaller goal you can attain by doing well-defined work in the coming weeks and months?

Healthy examples:

  1. Get 100 valuable posts on my blog by publishing one post each week (That’s a goal for the next 100 weeks).
  2. Have 50 helpful TikTok videos in 50 days (that’s a goal for the next 50 days).

The cool thing here is that if you can speed up your process, you could shorten the goal’s timespan — but that’s totally up to you!

Set realistic goals to show how long it will take with a reasonable effort — not a stressed one.

When you reach your goal, set another one. Rinse and repeat.

That is how we move away from The Endless Middle towards realizing our dreams.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

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Oren Cohen

I'm a software engineer, blogger, and aspiring fantasy novelist. Helping geeks build online homes. Reach out! I don't bite :)