SJ Duncan

 
 

The Tipping Point Blog

How to Survive the End of Your Novel

 

It’s 6 AM, April 10th, 2017.

 

BASH is set for release in 11 days.

 

And I’m a little stressed.

 

 

 

Now, if you were to ask what, exactly, is stressing me, I would have trouble pinpointing one individual thing. I feel good about the book. I'm happy with the writing. It has a cool setting, interesting characters, and a solid plot.

 

On the marketing side, my author platform (as they call it) is doing great. I'm steadily gaining fans on Facebook. I just started using Instagram, and I’m having a lot of fun with that. The IRP Twitter feed is nearing 10,000 followers, so no trouble there.

 

So where is the stress coming from?

 

It can only be one thing: End of the Road Syndrome.

 

 

A funny thing happens when you write a book. It begins as a sort of daydream. If you write like I do (sans outline) you follow this foggy notion of a plot until you end up somewhere satisfactory. This first draft (if you write like I do) is typically short, messy, and, at times, nonsensical. But it's fun.

 

Then you spend the next year or so revising, rewriting, getting your plot in order, and combing for typos. This can be fun, but it can also be tiresome.

 

Near the end of the process you’re worried about formatting, cover art, and how you’re going to go about promoting the dang thing. And of course, the entire time, you're still thinking of how the book could have been just a little better.

 

By this point, what started out as a lot of fun has become a tiresome, tedious, stressful process of finalizing something that never truly feels final.

 

Which leads us to my top 4 tips for surviving the end of the (fictional) world as you know it.

 

 

1. Trust Yourself

 

 

You’ve worked hard. And each day you were making the best decisions you could.

 

Don’t start second guessing now. It's simply too late for that.

 

 

 

 

2. Let Go

 

At some point you have to choose a hard deadline and stick to it. This is your release date. This is the date at which you'll let this thing out into the world, and move on to the next project. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go to print with the book you have, not the book you wish you had.

 

And the ideas won’t stop coming just because you’ve reached the end. Even now, 11 days from release, I’m still thinking of things that might have been interesting, or fun to write, or may have bolstered character development.

 

The thing is, you can’t fit it all in. There will always be one more great idea, or one more interesting scene, but if you keep tinkering with it, you'll never get it done.

 

Choose your date, and let it go.

 

 

 

3. Start Daydreaming About the Next Book

 

 

Writing a book is a long process. Some writers miss their characters when they’re done writing. I’m not one of those writers.

 

Typically, I'm sick of mine by the end. The characters, the setting, the plot. . . pretty much the whole thing. As BASH neared completion, I latched onto a certain daydream which kept occurring to me. That daydream grew into a story idea, and that idea will be my next book. Doing this kept me excited about writing, even as I was growing less excited about the book I was currently writing.

 

So start daydreaming and stay enthused.

 

 

4. Embrace Your Lack of Control

 

 

We all want success. We want readers. We want adoration. We want fame and money.

We want to be told we’re good.

 

Great.

 

The greatest.

 

But here’s the thing: What any given reader might relate to is a moving target. There are some universals (love, coming of age, etc.), but every individual is in flux every single day. Catching the right people with the right story at the right time is a crap shoot. There are things that are in your control (writing the best book you possibly can, your choice of artwork, your social media platform) and things that are out of your control (everything else). Focus your energy on the things you can control, and forget the rest. You'll be more productive.

 

Which all circles back to the first two on this list.

 

Trust yourself to do the best you can do each day.

 

And let go of everything else.

 

          

  

 

 

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