Confessions Of A Worried Writer: Fear of Finishing!

Confessions of a Worried Writer: Fear of Finishing

I’m very comfortable talking about writerly fears because, a lot of the time, I have the pleasant feeling that I have overcome (or learned to navigate) them. I think, ‘Oh yes, I used to suffer with that, but now I recognise it and don’t let it stop me.’ Or, I kid myself that because I have read several books on the subject and talked about it on the podcast, I Must Be Immune.

You know they say pride comes before a fall?

Yes. Friends, I must confess: Over the last month or so I have fallen Big Style. And not a sweet, lady-like little stumble, either, but a slapstick my-face-in-a-muddy-puddle trip.

I have been saying to anyone and everyone that ‘I’m stuck’. That I ‘don’t know how my book ends’. That I ‘need to do lots of thinking. And some more research.’

And I believed every word.

fear of finishing the bookYesterday, however, I had a realisation… I was just scared of finishing the book.

All of the elements are there in sketchy form, and I do know the ending (and have known it for ages), I’m just putting off writing it. I’m scared to get to The End.


If I finish the book, I have to send it to my agent to be read. Argh!

What’s the real fear, there? My agent, after all, is a very supportive and wise individual. It’s not as if she is going to send me hate-mail or show up on my doorstep with a rifle. No, the fear is that I’d be unmasked as a fraud and a failure.  That the Powers would take back my author badge and I’d have to get a real job.

The fears which, when examined, are daft.

Yes, the book might suck. My agent might say ‘this doesn’t work’ and that will feel awful, but it will be solvable. I will be able to rewrite the book to make it better or write something different.

And the fact is, either of those ‘worst case’ outcomes are preferable to this on-going ‘stuckness’ in which I either stare at the WIP with mounting panic or avoid opening the document at all. (And then feel terrible and like a huge failure and moan about how hard it is to my long-suffering family…)

The good news is this: As soon as I realised what my problem was (and that it was, as is Almost Always The Case, fear-based), that fear lost a bit of its power.

I know what I have to do and I’m going to do it. I won’t let the fear of finishing stop me as, luckily enough, my terror of Not Finishing is even bigger.

How about you? Have you ever suffered from ‘fear of finishing’? Head to the comments with your words of wisdom/personal experience/questions! 

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5 thoughts to “Confessions Of A Worried Writer: Fear of Finishing!”

  1. Hi Sarah,
    It is so helpful to read your words–they couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m also struggling with fear right now during a writing retreat I’d really been looking forward to. Fear of finishing is definitely a big part of it for me, and doing a retreat makes that fear come to the surface. Finishing the book becomes more real when there’s nothing else to distract me, and of course the fear comes rushing in.

    It’s very easy to feel alone in this struggle, and to believe that professional writers (especially published ones) have “gotten over” fear, so why can’t I? When of course the truth is that fear is a companion on this writing journey. That said, it doesn’t have to shut us down–sometimes it just needs to be acknowledged.

    Thanks so much for your honesty. BTW, I always look forward to your podcast–it’s one of my favorites! —Laura

    1. Hi Laura, Thanks so much for your kind words about the podcast and your thoughtful comment. I am so glad that I have helped you feel less alone – and I am sending you lots of sympathy for the fear you are experiencing at the moment. I do think that recognising the fear (I find writing it down helps, too) can be useful, as well as remembering that the worry is part of the creative process. Another thing which I find useful is to remind myself that my fear is trying to protect me… It’s over-reacting, sure, and the perceived dangers (of exposure, failure etc) are not factual (or life-threatening!) but it is trying to keep me safe. So I say ‘thanks for looking out for me’ and tell it that I’m going to keep on going/start the book/finish the book, anyway. Good luck! Sarah x

  2. Hi! Just found your blog – right on the money, for me. I have tons of strong beginnings and a couple of good middles and even some near finales but NOTHING is done and it’s absolutely about fear. Thanks for the post. Looking forward to reading more of your work and checking out the podcast 🙂

    1. Hi Kristen! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I empathise so much – you are definitely not alone! The good news is that finishing one project definitely makes it easier to finish things in the future. Good luck and do let me know if there is anything you would like covered on the podcast. x

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