Have you stopped working on a writing project out of fear of finishing? It’s an interesting question. Most people are consumed with fear when they begin a project, but there are times when finishing to manuscript or script can cause just as much fear and anxiety. Why?
Let’s talk about it!
It’s All Over!
Writing can be an intensely creative and emotional process. If you’ve thrown all your time, effort, thoughts, and energy into a story, coming to its inevitable conclusion can feel like the end of a relationship. Think about all the time and dedication you’ve spent to get the story and its characters right. The late nights, long weekends, and hours spent trying to fix an issue that you realized caused a plot hole later in the story.
And now, you’re headed toward the end of the story. It can be both cathartic and anxiety-inducing. How can you leave these characters and this setting? They’re like family!
First, take a deep breath, exhale, and know that even if you write “The End,” you’re not done with the story yet. Especially if you are still in the draft phase, you’ll have plenty of hours to edit and rewrite, so rest assured, even when the draft is done, there’s still work to do.
I understand the challenge of letting go if this is a polished draft. To give it to someone else, to release it to the world. That could be the reason for your anxiety. It’s that pesky inner critic who’s subconsciously taunting you, causing you to fear completing the story, keeping you trapped with only a few chapters left to go.
Ignore it. Push through. Get the project done. While you may need time to mourn its end, know that you accomplished something great: you finished a writing project! Go out and celebrate!
Another reason some writers fear finishing a project is the inevitable question that pops up when you tell someone you’re done: What’s next? Often, we’ve labored over a project for so long, and we’re happy to see it done that the last thing we need to hear is inquiries about what we’re doing afterward.
So, if we’re always working on that novel or script, people stop asking. It’s a safer place to be.
I suggest having another project in mind, so you have an answer ready when the time comes. “I’m working on a period drama next,” or “I have some funny ideas for a short film script.” Keep it vague, but this will give you cover as you develop something new. Don’t let the fear of being asked that question stop you from getting the work done.
Line ‘Em Up
Don’t allow yourself to have time to mourn the end of one project. Have others in development and ready to jump to the next. Now, you’re on to the next project, creativity flowing, ideas bouncing around, and you have the momentum from finishing the last project to keep you going.
The fear of completing a project comes from the fear of the unknown. If you don’t know what you’re doing next, it can create a creative vacuum once what you’ve been working on is finally done.
Mix it up, too. If you just wrote a novel, write a screenplay next. Wrote a book of poems? Write a play. Keep your creativity energized by changing the type of work you’re doing, and you’ll be so focused and ready to move on to the next project you won’t be sad when the current one ends.
Give yourself a reason to get your current project off your mind so you can move on to the next exciting thing.
What I’m Up To…
I’m writing two novels and two screenplays this year, but I’m alternating between them. All are in different genres and styles, which give my brain new creative avenues to explore. Even while I’m, nearing the end of my current novel project, my brain is tossing out ideas for the screenplay I’m working on in April.
Creativity is a mysterious and awesome force, so it’s good to keep it active and work toward your writing goals as much as possible.
It can be sad for a project to end, so it’s important not to allow yourself to fear its completion. Have other projects in mind, keep your creativity flowing, and don’t allow anxiety to overtake your creative impulses.
Get in there and get to The End so you can bring other characters and worlds to life!
Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!