Eager to begin writing, I sit down and start to daydream about the story. I write for a while. I stop.
The next day I do it again.
This goes on until the story is nearing the big climax at the end. I’ve worked out all the plot snags, and know exactly how it’s going to end. And then…
I slow down.
I drag my feet.
Suddenly I don’t want to write anymore.
I don’t have writer’s block.
I don’t have anything else more important pulling me away.
I’m not tired of the story.
I just don’t want it to end.
Fear, by any other name…
…is just as insidious.
(no wonder the arch-villain of star wars is named darth sidious. Ha!)
Although the reluctance to finish a project — and it sometimes shows up as a reluctance to begin — can parade behind many masks, at its heart it is fear. Don’t believe me? Check it:
“I don’t want to finish because…
- …I don’t know what I’ll do next” (fear of running out of ideas)
- …then I’ll have to face the next steps to publication” (fear of critique or rejection)
- …it might not measure up to what i’d hoped it would be” (fear of failure)
- …I’menjoying the process so much” (fear of loss of enjoyment)
- …I don’t know if I can do as well on the next project” (fear of not being able to repeat success)
What’s your reasons for not finishing? (comment below!)
Tackling rational fears
Some fears are based in the reality of past experience.
Maybe you’ve had some harsh critiques.
Maybe you’re not a very good artist (or writer, or filmmaker, or…) Yet.
Maybe you’ve gone through dry spells without any ideas.
But i’d like to share a greater reality than the old news of the past:
The future holds endless potential for positive outcomes!
If your problem is that you’re not very skilled, then think of it this way: your current project is one step closer to mastery of your craft! Every time you practice your skills, you get better. And if you need 100 sketches under your belt before you can master human proportions, then you best get sketching (rather than dragging your feet)! If it’s true that most writers have 2000 pages of junk in their heads before they start writing well, then start typing, buster!
If the trouble has been negative reactions of others around you, get a better support group! Find other creatives who are both at your level of skill and beyond, and you’ll likely find kinder critiques. Then again, maybe nobody thinks you’re any good — you’ll just have to decide whether you believe them or your heart. But if you decide to believe your own creative passion, then don’t ever let the negative reactions of others stop you again. You made the decision to pursue it, so the time for entertaining doubts is over!
Regardless of the past problems, the future is always unwritten and waiting for your positive attitude to shape it into something beautiful.
It comes back to the natural cycle of the seed — sow a good seed, get a good harvest. What you put into life comes back to you. A negative expectation will shape the future into something ugly. A positive one will bring positive results. Sometimes there’s a delay (have you ever actually tried watching and waiting for a seed to sprout and grow? Have you ever planted a fruit tree from a seed? Sometimes it takes patience!), but if you have good seed in good soil and you keep feeding and watering it with good stuff, you’ll eventually get good fruit. It’s just the way the universe works!
Dealing with irrational fears
Once you realize a fear is irrational (not based on anything that has ever really happened to you, completely unfounded), then I have a two-word solution:
You gonna finish that?
If there’s a project you’ve started that you haven’t finished, take a look at your reasons. If there are legitimate reasons that require action to resolve (for example, you need some reference photos to finish a sketch or you need some research to finish a story), then go forth and take action! Make a list of what needs to be done to finish, and then tackle it one item at a time.
And if you discover that your reluctance to finish is based in fear (real or imagined), I recommend a hearty dose of optimism
(if you need any of that, I’ve got plenty to share)
And then a generous topical application of “just do it!” cream.
(repeat as needed)