Fear of the Finish Line

(Correction to this post: as of late last night, I have FINALLY finished the draft – though I am impressed that I wrote a blog post about not finishing my novel in order to avoid finishing my novella. I was at peak procrastination to say the least! However, this blog might still be helpful for someone, so I’m going ahead and posting it!).

I am THIS CLOSE to finishing my current draft, y’all. Full on, less than 2-3k to go on the novella I’ve been flying through finishing up, and yet, suddenly I have stumbled to a halt that has lasted through a solid week of no writing what so ever.

Why do I do this to myself? It’s not the story – it’s a fun romp that has been a blast to work on after stressing over revision after revision and query after query during and following Pitch Wars. If anything, it’s been a relief to get to work on something that is less pressure than a full size novel. It’s not the quality either – I know it’s a rough draft, but that’s what my darling critique partners are for: helping me polish it into something resembling submit-able shape. I don’t think it’s even the deadline looming over my head – though the anthology I’m hoping to submit this to does close for subs as of September 20th which is not too far away.

I know I can knock out 2000 words in a day. I’ve done it before. Hell, I’ve done it pretty often when I’m determined to reach a deadline be it external like this anthology call or even NaNoWriMo or internal when I’ve just set the goal for my own scheduling purposes.

So if I can do it, why am I not doing it?

The answer that I don’t want to look at in the face is simple fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear that submitting the story will lead to absolutely no change at all and simply keep me at essentially the same spot on the road to publication. Fear of getting asked for a full series which should be the best of news. Fear it gets picked up but readers hate it.

Fear. Fear. Fear. Fear. Fear.

Finishing this story means I have to progress to the next step, and I’m discovering I have a hard time picturing those next steps without facing that nerve-wracking moment of “this is going to be out of my hands soon.”

Just like finishing the last novel did. And the one before that.

I’ve got to keep reminding myself that I’ve done this before. I have a couple full length novels already completed behind me, neither published, but neither failures, either. Both have hope, and really finishing them at all is already something relatively few people in the world can accomplish! If you think about how many people say “Oh I think I may write a book someday,” and then never do, I’ve already done something incredible.

Continuing to sit on the sidelines watching the deadline creep closer and closer, letting fear keep me from writing… That’s not something I’m OK with letting myself do. Fear doesn’t get to win. It didn’t with the last two books. It won’t with the who-knows-how-many books left to be written. Fear. Will. Not. Win.

I can do this. I can. Time to sit down and make myself write. They’ll probably be shitty words. That’s OK – I can revise once it’s done. It just has to get done first.

Anyone else struggling with that precipice between almost done and actually finishing? Feel free to commiserate with me over at @C_L_McCollum!