Writing Tip of the Week:  Are You Afraid to Finish Your Story?

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!  

What’s Next?

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Writing Tip of the Week: An Audience of One


When you start to work on any writing project, whether it’s a novel, screenplay, poem, or short story, it’s important to remember that you are the initial audience for the project. This may seem obvious, but often we can get so wrapped up in trying to figure out what others want, what the anonymous readers or viewers may want, that we can get off track when writing something meaningful to ourselves.

The key to creating something that resonates with others is ensuring it resonates with you as you develop and write it.

Let’s talk about it!

Remember, You’re Your #1 Customer

You. Yes, you, The Writer, are the first to read your novel, screenplay, or other written work. Does it make you laugh? Does it generate the right emotional beats as you read? Are you drawn into the story? Can you relate to the characters?  

These are all great things to consider as you write and work on subsequent drafts.  

Every published novel and produced screenplay had to, at some point, connect with the writer of that work to make them confident enough to share it with others. If you are pleased with what you’ve written and feel it’s ready to share, that may indicate you’re on the right track.

What If I’m Not Happy with What I’ve Written?

If you’re having issues connecting with the story and the characters or are not enjoying what you’re writing, STOP!

Especially if it’s not a writing assignment, there’s no reason why you need to slog through a creative endeavor that feels like a punishment. 

Some stories can be more challenging to craft and assemble than others. However, even the challenges should be a positive endeavor, not one fraught with agony or frustration. And while you will always have to contend with various story problems, those shouldn’t make you want to quit writing altogether.

My suggestion if you dread working on a writing project: Walk Away. Work on something else. Working on another unrelated project can free your mind to work through the issues you’re having with the other story.  

Then, if I decide to go back to that problematic project, I may have the answers I need to get it done.

Enjoy the Whole Process

Writing takes time, and it takes patience. And it takes your creative effort to make your story a reality. From idea to final draft, you must find ways to enjoy what you’re working on since you will live with this story and its character for several months, if not years.

Because of this, you need to think of yourself as the primary audience for your work. You’re writing a story you want to read or see on the screen. Your excitement and energy will help invigorate the story and keep you and the project going.

Allow Yourself to Focus on Y-O-U

In our ever-present social media-obsessed, 24-hour news cycle, 1000 new shows streaming per day world, it can be a challenge to sit down and focus on your own creative needs. But we need to shut out the noise and nurture our creativity and stories to find sanity and balance in our everyday lives.

Yes, eventually, your stories will be consumed by others. But today, at this moment, as you sit and write and create, it’s all yours. Yours to build, to change, to evolve. Don’t let negativity from inside your mind or the outside world take that away from you.

You owe it to yourself to create.

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!