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.
Yesterday, 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!
[Image credit: FreedigitalPhotos.net]