WW: Do You Ever Dread Finishing a Project?

Wickeds, we’re talking about finishing things this month. Have you ever so enjoyed a project that you dreaded finishing it? Have you ever written a book you didn’t want to finish?

Jessie: What an intriguing question, Julie! I cannot ever remember dreading the end of a book I had written. I can think of times that I didn’t want to let it go off to be critiqued by my editors but I am so goal-oriented that I love being able to look at a project I have finsihed.

Edith/Maddie: Like Jessie, I can’t recall dreading the end of a writing project. Since I signed my first Kensington contract back in 2012, I’ve never been without a deadline looming. I enjoy the challenge of writing the best book I can, sending it in on time and diving into the next book on the schedule. I’ve certainly dreaded the end of a book I’m reading – especially when it’s the last in a series.

Barb: I have a friend who has a theory that with regards to spending, everyone is born with a percentage. If you are a 90 percenter, you will spend 90% of your income, no matter what it is or how much it changes over your lifetime. If you are a 110% you will spend 110% of your income. Of course there are the 10 percenters and the 200 percenters, both problematic. I bring this up because I have extended this theory to include project completion. Everyone is born with a percentage. There are the 2% completers, the “idea men,” (they’re always men) who think having the idea is all of the work and leave someone else to chase around and figure out how to implement it, and then claim all the credit. (I’ve worked for a few of these in career.) And there are the 120% completers, who will plow the same tired ground long after it has gone fallow. I am a proud 100 percenter. I love finishing stuff. Not always on time, a la Edith, but I finish darn near everything I start. Which is not always a good thing. There are projects I should have long since walked away from that I will hammer at until they are done. Like a race horse, when I can see the finish line, I will single mindedly go for it. Which is why my Kindle never shows a book as 90% complete, because if I’ve gotten that far, I am going to finish it, no matter the time or what I have to do the next day.

Julie: Barb, I love the percentage theory. I am like you, a 100%er, though lately I will confess to skipping to the end of a book or a movie. When I thought of this question, I was considering writing what may be the last of a series, and not wanting it to end. Or finishing a book that flowed like no other. My many years in theater also brought me close to a few magical productions that you didn’t want to end, because it was lightening in a bottle that won’t be replicated. They are all good reasons to enjoy the moment, and not live in the future, I suppose.

Sherry: Hmmmmm, I’m not sure about this. I think my reluctance to type “the end” must play into not wanting to let a book go. I like sending a book in, but I love getting it back during the copy edits phase. I also tend to be an idea person, but I believe I always give credit where credit is due.

Liz: I love the percentage theory too! I really love finishing things – and usually, by the time I get to the end of a big project/book/whatever it is, I am really happy to let it go and not see it again (until the finished product, of course!).

Readers, how do you feel about finishing a project? Have you ever been doing work that you dread ending?

29 Thoughts

  1. Interesting discussion! In writing, I’m a 100 percenter, which I’m now finding to be problematic. I’m writing proposals instead of completed manuscripts for submission, and I get so involved in the development of the new characters, plots, and ideas, I want to finish the book! Except, if the proposal doesn’t find a publisher, I need to start on a new proposal instead. I feel like I’ve abandoned those homeless opening chapters and the characters living in them.

    As for dreading finishing a project…there is one of my published novels that, as I neared the end, I knew what was coming. And I didn’t want it to happen. But it had to happen. There was no other way it could end. So I dreaded having to write that big bad final scene. My reluctance had nothing to do with not wanting to finish the project, though.

    1. Annette, I know the proposal roulette, and how hard it is to abandon some of these ideas.

      Your example of the end of your book was part of the dread I wondered about. Writers go through such angst during the creation, don’t they?

      1. Yes, Julie! I get so attached to my characters, even the bad guys sometimes. I find myself wondering if maybe I could end the book differently so they could come back. Of course, the point of crime fiction is seeing that justice is served, so that isn’t an option.

  2. It looks like I’m a 120 percenter. It’s not so much the writing as the re-writing. And then a little editing. And then just a little tweaking. Etc. etc. Or, in the words of an editor I knew years ago, I’m a momma gerbil. He used to say that there were writers whose books you had to literally wrest out of their hands or they would re-write them to death, the way some momma gerbils start grooming their babies, can’t stop and end up eating them. A gruesome image, but effective. Thank goodness for deadlines or my manuscripts would never see the light of day 😉

  3. I’m a 100 percenter. Not sure if that is good or bad. I love finishing projects and then looking forward to the next.

  4. This question made me really stop and think, and I couldn’t think of any project or job that I’ve done that I dreaded it ending. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy my projects, but I’m usually excited about it when I complete one and excited to move on to the next one. I think the only thing I’ve dreaded ending are book series that I love. I find myself rereading the series and then thinking about what might have been next in their lives if the series hadn’t ended.

  5. What an interesting question? Being new at this writing thing (let’s just say later in life). I am finally following my passion. It does give me something on which to ponder?

  6. Personally, I find it rewarding to finish a project that I’ve worked hard on. If it’s one I really enjoyed, there may be a slight sadness that the fun part is over. However, since I’m goal oriented, it means I can move on to the next “fun” project that I can immerse myself in. 🙂

    It’s like reading a series that you have come to love for the people, setting and adventure. Once you read the last page of the last book, there may be a tinge of regret that it’s over. However, if you really enjoyed the author’s work, then it’s time to move on to the next series or book by either this author, another one whose books you enjoy or time to explore that new to you author. Each finished project leaves you open to explore new ones.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  7. I think I’m definitely a 100 percenter. I like the feeling of finishing something, whether a novel or another project, looking at the result and thinking, “I did that.” And then I get to enjoy the rush of starting something new.

  8. I consider myself “task oriented” and tend to finish what I start. These days however, if I start a project or book that doesn’t really interest me, I put it down.

  9. I think the answer is it depends on what the project is. With some project it’s all about the doing. The enjoyment is in the making of, not the actual project. If I am thoroughly enjoying the journey then yes I dread the ending. If it isn’t about having fun DOING the project then I am happy to finish and have the results right there finished!

  10. My first year of teaching, I didn’t want to give up my students. I was hatching plans for summer activities and workshops. My sweet students patiently explained that it was time to part, that’s what summer was for, but that I’d be fine, and they’d visit next school year. As one told another early in the year, “Don’t take advantage. We aren’t lucky enough to get a brand new teacher every year.” <3
    As a reader, I have (finally) learned I don't have to finish every book I start, not with so many more to be read . . . and if I really love them, write reviews for. <3

  11. Barb, unfortunately, all idea men (and I have actually worked with a few idea women who behaved just like you described) rise to management. They have no clue how much work their ideas will mean for everyone else, and they don’t listen to any feedback on why those ideas aren’t good/feasible/practical. Can you tell I’m working for several now?

    1. I am laughing in sympathy, Mark. I have to say I have also worked for some amazing Idea men and women who totally appreciated the skills others brought to bear on a project. But they never had the attitude, “I said it, so it’s done,” I’ve seen in others.

      1. We got another new request today. Something that makes absolutely no sense. And I appear to be the only one willing to push back and say so, too.

  12. I’m definitely a 100%er. I love the feeling of completing a big job well done. The only exception was for a while after I graduated college after 9 1/2 years, I felt a bit lost. I realized I missed the deadlines. Self-imposed deadlines help, but aren’t the same.

    I have learned as I’ve gotten older that it isn’t necessary to finish reading a book I’m not enjoying. I don’t have to prove to anyone that I’m can “stick it out.” Who cares?

  13. I sometimes hate coming to the end of (reading) a book if I am really “into” the story. When I start (reading) a new book I have a rule of reading 50 pages or 3 chapters and if I can’t get “into” the story I close the book and move on
    to a new one.

    Years ago when I first graduated from college I made myself finish every book I started reading and some of them I really hated! Finally that made me give up reading for 40+ years until my stock club morphed into a book club. Now, 20 years later, I’m never without a book to read on my endtable.

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