Reaching THE END Of Your Story

old typrwriter spelling out the end

Going from writer to published author requires a series of accomplishments — so what does it really take to get to THE END of your story?

Steven Pressfield (the author of The War of Art) writes about the difficulty of pushing through and reaching THE END of whatever you are writing. It could be a poetry chapbook. It could be a memoir. It could be fiction of any genre or any word count. It could be a how-to on cabinet making or a children’s picture book. Regardless of the genre, a lot of writers struggle with perfecting that effort of reaching THE END.

Writers, admittedly or not, have a love/hate relationship with completing a manuscript. You’ve heard people talk about their wishful thoughts of book-creation. It’s amazing how many people talk about writing a book one day but never start. Others make a half-hearted attempt at a start — jotting down ideas, writing a chapter or two, even taking a week off work in an attempt to jumpstart that dream of finishing a book-length tale that so desperately needs telling. The grand majority of them, however, never finish the first draft.

Fear of feedback

For those who manage to write 50,000 words, or even finish the first draft, too many leave it on their computers or wedged in the back of a desk drawer in a notebook, never to see the light of day.

Some of these writers just do not have the discipline to keep at the craft. Others do not care to study the craft intensely enough to make it marketable. But an amazing number manage to complete a draft manuscript, maybe even a second, and still, they halt the pursuit of publication.

Why? Because that is the point where you let others read it… and receive feedback. That’s when you pitch an agent… and get feedback. That is when you submit for publication… and get feedback. The feedback is the thrill yet also the agony of writing, and sometimes we feel safer just saying we’re still writing it, because that is the world in which we feel safest.

From writing bliss to critical mess

That is when you leave the fun of writing and enter the world of publishing. We started writing for the storytelling, didn’t we? Not the criticism. The publishing part is not what we bargained for.

Truthfully, however, what are we really afraid of?

  • Being told it’s just okay. Or worse, that it’s bad. But frankly, once we hear it’s “okay,” the meaning is the same.
  • Prematurely releasing a darling in the world. But who’s to say when it’s premature? There are no guides on that decision.
  • Learning after all that time invested that we really do not know what we are doing. AKA, feeling like a phony.
  • Realizing we spent months working on a project nobody wants.
  • Recognizing the unsaid… that maybe we need to find another “hobby.”

Be aware that you are not alone in these thoughts. But also be aware that you are the director of your own journey.

THE END is a milestone

Look across social media. When an author talks about typing THE END, or submitting to the publisher, or having a release date, a lot of the public admires first and foremost the fact that the author finished a story. You think it. I think it. Everyone thinks it. That’s because we understand that reaching THE END, then bragging about it, takes guts and a lot of effort.

You are admired for reaching THE END.

There’s a reason that authors continually get asked the questions:

What is your work regimen?

Where do you get your ideas?

How many words do you write each day?

Do you listen to music while you write?

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

The questions are endless and repetitious, but the basic underlying question everyone really wants to know is, “How the heck did you make it all the way through this minefield and not lose your mind?”

Don’t be the roadblock

Some swear that it cannot be just hard work. It has to be:

  • Magic
  • Genetics
  • Who you know
  • A unique upbringing
  • Intense education
  • A lottery-ticket sort of luck

Free guide offer for Promote Then PublishBut really, it’s deciding to follow-through. And nothing on Earth gets in your way in doing this but you.

There will be obstacles. Recently a friend told me she was determined to start back writing with a vengeance… then added she’d start in two months once her child graduated from high school. I wrote her back and told her, “No. If writing is a goal, you start right now.”

Setting a date on a goal is not the same as reaching for the goal. It’s just another obstacle… or excuse.

The first effort is to start.

The second effort is to make writing a habit.

The third is to follow through to THE END.

Is this really THE END?

At that point in time, you polish then let it loose into the world. Sometimes it will come back to you. Maybe beaten up, maybe ignored, but that’s okay. That’s still advancement in your journey.

There are several interpretations of reaching THE END:

  • the first draft
  • the edited manuscript
  • the querying of agents
  • the first rejection
  • the follow-through of self-publishing
  • the first appearance
  • the first one-star review
  • the first draft of the second book, the third, and so on

That’s because THE END is nothing more than a benchmark, checkmarks in boxes, and you’ll have many such benchmarks in your writing life if you really want to be an author. Instead of looking at a book as an elephant-sized task full of deterrents, envision it as a series of THE ENDs. This way you have small moments of satisfaction and can envision your journey as a stair climb series of THE ENDS.

But everyone admires those who struggle to THE END.

Your path to self-publishing

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Writing Full-Time Takes a Work/Life Balance
Choose To Make Writing A Priority

1 COMMENT

  1. Amazing

    You hit all the nerve points; however I have tried and tried but I can’t find a good illustrator to finish my front cover for Book 1, let alone 2,3,4,5,6,7 ( all manuscripts written not get fully edited, each manuscript is 60,000 words or more, and the longest is 150,000 words ) and a new series that is also started.
    But most of all I have not yet found a publisher and I am thinking of going the Amazon route.

    Finding these resources, and the type where the author will also make some money, is way more difficult than writing all eight books.
    For your information this is my first comment to this site.

    Hugh

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