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How to Handle End of Novel Blues

Guest post by Zena Shapter

Let’s say you’ve been working on a novel for a while – maybe a year or two, fitting it inbetween work, life and kids. Now you’re approaching its end… you’re past the novel’s climax and you’re starting to wind everything up… You should feel elated. Yay – your novel is almost done! Finally!

Hold on, what’s that? You don’t feel elated? Instead, you feel down… and don’t know why? You find yourself thinking:

“Why am I even doing this?”

“This novel is a load of rubbish – why am I bothering?”

“Why have I wasted all this time?”

“No one is going to buy this!”

Evenso you decide on a day, or a few hours, when you’re going to finish the thing, no matter what. The time arrives, but suddenly you’ve forgotten to do the grocery shopping – replant the lemon tree that’s outgrown its pot – apply for that new job – fix that squeaky door… The next thing you know, you’re doing a workout because you realise you haven’t exercised for a while, or you’re cooking dinner, and then it’s too late in the evening to do any writing. You’re exhausted!

Why did you do all that stuff when you should have been writing? Hasn’t this project gone on long enough as it is?

[Please note: in my case, please substitute all of the above distractions with ‘did something on social media’]

Alternatively, you did sit down and thrash out those final few scenes. Only your lack of enthusiasm now shows in the words you wrote. They’re lacklustre, not befitting of the genius literary effort you made at the manuscript’s beginnings…

Fear not, fellow writer – there’s nothing wrong with you… you’ve simply got ‘end of novel blues’!

You’ve been working on this manuscript for so long now, the problem is that you have no idea what’s going to happen when you actually finish it… What will come next? Not knowing the answer is affecting your writing.

What’s that you say…? You’ve lost your creative spark… You’ll never make it as a writer because you only ever had this one novel in you and now you can’t even finish that?

Well I’d say that there is your problem. You haven’t planned far enough ahead.

You know very well that writing a novel is not like this:

Write a book –> Get published immediately –> fame + fortune

For some rare lucky people, it may be. But for the rest of us it’s more like:

Write a book –> Spend a few years submitting it for publication –> fame + fortune

Ha ha, only joking – there’s no fame or fortune for any of us: we’re writers!! No money + only fleeting fame during book launches!

So what are we going to do about your blues? Think about it… what are you going to do during those years trying to get published?

The answer is simple, yet you may not have thought about it before… plan your next project before you finish your first!

And yes, I know you don’t want to lose your focus on your current manuscript. I’m not suggesting that you actively go away and research or start writing a new novel before you’ve finished your first. But you do need to ‘plan’ what you’re going to do immediately after you type ‘The End’. You need to know how you’re going to spend those months while you wait for responses on your manuscript.

Also, what if no one offers on it… will you give up… will you try overseas… will you write a different novel? All of that takes time, time that until now has been filled with your current novel writing project. When that project ends, it will leave a gap in your life, which will need filling if you’re to stop yourself getting ‘end of novel blues’:

  • How about setting up or directing more traffic towards your author platform, ready for when your novel is published?
  • How about writing a short story?
  • Why not plan your next novel?

Don’t wait until after your novel writing project finishes to decide!

Up until now, you’ve kept the pressure on yourself with ‘I must finish my novel, I must finish my novel’. Keep that pressure on your creativity by finding a new mantra – one that you can’t wait to fulfil!

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