You’re on the final approach—the countdown to the end—a moment you’ve been dreaming about for the last few months, or years maybe. You’ve crafted your book over countless hours, fashioned the characters, and perfectly assembled everything you want to say. And then …logjam.
In my own experience of writing and coaching both fiction and non-fiction, I’ve heard (and used) some interesting excuses—ahem, I mean reasons—why a book remains teetering on the edge of completion for what can amount to a painful amount of time.
It’s not really because our health’s a bit off right now, or we’ve had to care for someone, or been inordinately busy right at our book’s most critical moment. It sometimes goes a little deeper than that. The scary fact may be that, unconsciously, we don’t want to draw the curtain on our play.
Understandably, some writers have difficulty starting their books. In fiction we know that the first page is critical. It must have all the elements required to captivate the readers and draw them into our world as quickly as possible, but it must also capture an agent’s or publisher’s attention who hasn’t got the leisure time to allow a story to develop before they make a decision. Lots to think about?
But that pesky end game. You’ve almost done it, so what’s stopping you from galloping over the line? If you’ve never written a book before, it may be the biggest thing you’ve ever done in your life. How many hours has it taken from your personal time—probably thousands? Is anyone in your family suffering as you mooch about in your own little universe, mulling over character flaws?
We don’t just invest time in our book. We can make demands (sometimes unwittingly) on our loved ones, expend enormous quantities of emotional energy, and become so self-absorbed that nothing else is as important as ‘the book’. It’s no wonder that deep down we find it incredibly difficult to finish it and…yes…Let. It. Go.
Despite the arduous nature of book writing, if you love the writing process, you’ll begin to experience grief as the book spirals towards its end. You’ve conceived it, carried it, borne it, nurtured it lovingly, and now it’s about to be sent out into the big bad world. Naturally you’ll begin to feel a sense of loss.
I’ve seen clients struggle through that final barrier and then fly to the finish line, and why not? The end is already written in their mind’s eye, and probably has been for a while. Suddenly the road becomes clear. Sniffling colds disappear, the dust settles on demands of domesticity, and all those self-imposed blocks dissolve.
Oh, what a bloody marvellous feeling! And don’t worry—it’s not really the end. By the time the editing, polishing, publishing and promoting processes are done, you’ll be truly over it. Then you can write another!
What’s your stumbling block or big excuse? What can you do to leap over it?