With any luck, you know that wonderful pressure at the back of the head that comes when you are almost finished with a book and you HAVE TO FINISH IT NOW!
I’ve experienced that. (So has my family, poor schmoes.)
However, I’ve also had to reverse problem, rather more often. In fact, I’m having it right now. I’m almost done writing out my Tips, and because I’m ALMOST done, some whacked part of my mind feels as if I AM done.
Imagine a marathon runner who comes within sight of the Finish Line and says, “Ok, I see the end. I’m done here.” And stops running before he crosses the line.
I see the end in sight and something deep inside says, “Right, then, let’s get on to the next project.” Then Something Shiny distracts me and I’m off. Forcing myself to finish those last three chapters, or that last 5,000 words or the final showdown between the white hat and black hat…. Holy Gamoly, Batman! We’re doomed!
7 Tricks to Beat Fear of CompletionTo entice, force, trick myself into finishing, I’ve come up with several strategies.
1. I buy myself a completely self-indulgent present, wrap it, and don’t let myself open it until I’ve finished. It’s usually inexpensive and childish—like a Katniss Barbie doll—to deliberately reward the childlike part of me, which, I suspect, is the source of most of my impatience to get on to the next project. It’s usually something I would never buy for myself, and that no one else would buy for me. Once I got a massage! Another time I just bought Twizzlers. Obviously, your choice of self-gift will be highly personal.
2. I write the last scene, then the next to last scene, and so on, until I meet up with the spot I stopped. This works best if I’m already very close to the end.
3. I skip the hard scenes and go for the low hanging fruit. I don’t do this most of the time, by the way. I prefer to start with the hardest scenes first, and use the easy scenes as rewards. But if I’m hard pressed, I’ll take the low road.
4. I write at least the first sentence of each remaining scene. Again, this only works if you have a pretty clear idea of what scenes remain.
5. I write the Script (dialogue only) of remaining scenes.
6. I break down each scene into subparts and focus on finishing one subpart at a time. I write each scene and sub-scene on a To Do list and check it off as I go, so I have a sense of forward progress, however incremental. (I'll go into more detail on this method tomorrow.)
7. I take a lot of caffeine and stay up 24 hours, and just keep writing like a madwoman, until I collapse. Not really recommended, but it does work.
Getting Back the MoodSuppose you have either (A) veered off track, or (B) lost steam on your novel or (C) had to deal with other crazy stuff in Real Life and become derailed completely.
You can either (A) take a break from your novel for a while. Yes, even if you didn’t “win.” Yes, even if it’s not “over.” Really, it’s okay.
Or (B) do some fun stuff to re-ignite your passion for your book.
Here are some things I do when I get off course:
1. Talk about my novel to a sympathetic person. (It’s imperative this person not be a downer.)
2. Talk about my novel to myself. Yes, I talk to myself. I am a writer. I’m allowed to be crazy.
3. Write a page about why I love my novel.
5. Reread what I wrote.
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