The first of the month, while struggling into a girdle for a friend’s wedding, I found myself mulling middles (cause mine was seriously giving me trouble right then). This somehow lead me to mull starting and finishing. Last week I was sure I was finished when I wrote a blog post on finishing, but wrapping up my latest novel project (Relatively Risky) reminded me of what happens after I finish.
First I’m happy/thrilled/satisfied/relieved. Then I get reflective. And then I get the blues.
The first time it happened, I was not expecting it. I thought I’d ride thrilled right into the next book. I’d done it. I had it All Figured Out. I now owned finishing. Yeah.
Instead I tumbled into this blue pit of meh that was not stocked with nearly enough chocolate and Diet Dr. Pepper. When I managed to crawl out, wipe the chocolate off my face, and look around I realized that…
I’m not the only person to get the post-book blues. Or the post-fill-in-the-blank-of-your-project blues.
This was a relief, but I still didn’t like it. I still don’t like it. But I have learned it can be managed, if not completely avoided.
What I call the blues (and what feels like the blues) is actually a feeling of loss. We might be glad our project is finished, but we also miss it. That’s why people keep saying that it’s not the destination, but the journey that counts. Of course, we don’t always believe that until we reach our destination and found out that yes, the journey was hard and challenging and sometimes frustrating—but in the end—it was great. We had fun. And now we miss it.
The post-finish blues are why people run more marathons and write more books and try to find new challenges or things to do. Because we’ve all learned to love the journey.
And I’ve learned that missing the journey can help pull me out of the blues and springboard me into the next project, the next journey, the new book. But first I need to feel the loss. Your mileage may vary (and dang your lucky if it does!).
So, here at the end of my March Mini-series, are some last tips that might help you with the post-finish blues:
- Finishing is worth it, even if you get the blues after. It’s always worth it to cross a finish line.
- It’s okay to miss it, to feel loss, but…
- Prepare for it. I tend to use the blues time to do something different, like read the books that have piled up on my Kindle, watch the movies I missed while I was head down writing, and I start making notes on my next project.
- Believe it will end. Belief is powerful. The post project blues are kind of like a project, too. In its own way, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. Just don’t linger in the middle for too long. Or forget to let it end.
- Keep trying to start on the next project until you actually start on the next project. Or at least sit down and give your goals a good, hard look. Eventually, you’ll realize that you a) aren’t blue anymore; and b) you’ve started! I’m always happy when starting sneaks up on me.
- Don’t wait for outside forces or other people to get you going again. Starting (and getting through the middle and finishing) all happens inside you, inside your heart ,and your mind. No one can do it for you. And if they do it for you, then they get the glory, not you. So do it yourself.
- Not letting other people do it for you doesn’t mean you can’t tap into your support group. We all need to know that there is someone out there who cares if we get moving again. I love it when I get an email or a comment on Facebook asking me when my next book will be out. Most of the time I feel like the lone Ent tromping around in the forest waiting for a tree to fall… Sorry. Lap up any encouragement you can find.
Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the blues back into starting. Yes, it can feel like an endless causality loop and it kind of is. But that’s what makes it all so fun. And every time we make the start–middle–finish loop, we’re learning new things, so the journey is never quite the same.
Have you ever struggled with post-finish blues? How did you pull out? All comments are entered into my monthly drawing for $10 AnaBanana gift card and they might help someone struggling with the post-project blues. 🙂 Winner is announced in the first blog post of the new month.
Pauline Baird Jones is currently in the elated portion of finishing her book, Relatively Risky, and getting it out for sale. Finally. She could use a spa and yes, chocolate, but collapsed in a heap works, too. For more information on all of Pauline’s books visit her website at paulinebjones.com.