When The End is So Close (But Not Close Enough)

Oh sigh! This is how I’m feeling this week …

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I’m at the point in my WIP (work-in-progress) where all I can say is, “This story is killing me!” The characters are getting tired of me, I’m getting tired of them, and we (yes, all the voices in my head, haha!) just want to get this book done. The finish line is so close, but not close enough. I’m on the second to the last chapter and it’s taking me forever—the same kind of forever the kids experience during a car ride longer than 30 minutes—and I am pooped. So pooped that one evening after we were done with dinner, I just fell over onto the dining room chair next to me and shut my eyes. Hubby watched me go down and promptly murmured, “Oh no.” Don’t worry, he’s used to my writer’s drama by now. 😉 After venting to him about my struggle to finish my book, he stated (a little too matter-of-factly!), “That’s normal. The last 5% always requires 95% effort.”

Argh. That is so true. And why is hubby always right?!

I can remember having this similar struggle during my firstborn munchkin’s birth when the nurse told me (after hours of intense labor!) that I STILL had to push him out. Years later when I ran a 5k with my (much younger and energetic) sister, I was the one pushing myself up that final hill to reach the finish line. These days, each time I write a book, I also have to push through the uncertainty and frustration of writer’s block to get to the last page. In all these situations, I wanted to give up even though I was so, so close. Why is that?

Fatigue is probably a good reason. Actually, it’s likely THE reason. When we start out doing a project or task, we have all the optimism in the world that what we’re doing is going to be exciting and worthwhile. But that’s before we face the bumps in the road and have to work hard to overcome those obstacles. So by the time we’re nearing the end, we’re weary and maybe very disillusioned. That’s why the last 5% requires us to give all we’ve got—and then some.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this with my writing. One thing that’s been helping is to tackle each 1% of this last 5% by itself. I’ve found that forcing myself to write in short 15 minute spurts keeps me focused and limits the amount of time I’m staring at the screen. I also reward myself after the 15 minutes are up with some TV (for research purposes, of course!) or a walk or a snack. There’s been times when I’ve been so focused and productive during the 15 minutes that I have no problem going over that time, so I keep on typing! And the more I can focus and type, the closer I get to the finish line.

All righty, all this talk about finishing is motivating me to go write! And here’s a song I’ve had on repeat to help me do just that. Check out Justin Timberlake’s new song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”, a catchy dance tune that will put a smile on your face. 🙂

What do you do to get through that last 5% of whatever it is you’re pushing to finish?