Writing “The End”

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I imagine all artists – writers, painters, composers – come to a place in their work when they (in one form or another) jot down those two words: “The End.”

Naturally, the end of a first draft isn’t the END. There are months of rewrites and edits ahead. The collection of words I’ve tallied up on my laptop is still a work-in-progress.

But the story is done. The plot has wrapped up. The characters have completed their arcs and in some cases have died. Even my happy endings don’t come without pain, suffering, and loss. They are always bittersweet.

When I write “The End,” it’s emotional. As I scribble this post, days after penning that last line, my eyes gloss with feeling. And there’s no single reason.

“The End” comes with a sigh of relief and a wish to tell someone the powerful news. It’s a milestone. More than a year’s creative work coming to its conclusion.

But, for me, there’s also an odd sense of grief. I don’t know what to do with myself.  I’m restless. My sense of time shifts; my focus suddenly flutters away. I can’t sit, can’t move on. The story that consumed my thoughts and hours is over. The pressure to write, to capture my characters’ thoughts and hearts and sacrifices before they slip away, dissipates. I know the story now from the beginning to the end. The characters I have lived with and come to love have nothing more to say to me. They journey into their futures without me. Inside my head, I’m… alone.

Writing is, for many, an emotional undertaking. I’ve felt this way with every first draft.

I finished my first draft on November 18th with an additional 26,722 words. My NaNoWriMo challenge is done. I’m grieving.

And prepping for the less intense application of my craft.

Do you have any emotional reaction to writing “The End?” I’d love to hear your thoughts.



164 thoughts on “Writing “The End”

  1. Sarah says:

    I can only too well understand the emotional side of ending a creative project that has accompanied you for so long. Those characters are your friends, maybe even your children in a way and parting from them just hurts.
    When I finish a drawing or painting it’s fortunately not as emotional. Most of the time I’m just glad I made it, and more often than not I tend to see all the mistakes I made and couldn’t help doing at that point. So a finished painting always leaves me with the desire to make it better next time, and in a way, there’s no The End in it. 😊


  2. Sheron says:

    Amazing post! You capture so well how I feel. I’ve ended my long series and miss my characters and the feeling of solving the puzzle of how to write a novel well. That sense of production.
    There’s a restlessness that hopefully the excitement of the holidays will fill until my muse returns.
    Happy holidays to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ryan says:

    You put into words an affliction I’ve had for years! Although so far I only dabble with short stories, I get a weird sense of missing the characters, as though someone you got close with has come and gone. Awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we get to know them, are intrigued and touched by them, and then they’re gone. It’s like they moved away and stopping emailing. Lol. I’m into the grind of rewrites and edits now, so my sadness is over. Thanks for the visit, Ryan. I noticed that your site is “in progress.” Be sure to stop back here at some point so I can check in and follow you. I’m looking forward to reading those characters that you struggle to let go of. Happy Writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ryan says:

        Haha; receiving the cold shoulder from the very people we create. Ah the good old grind, hello red pen my old friend, good luck! And yeah definitely, I literally just posted my first site so thanks for checking it out, well, trying! Happy grinding!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I just finished my first book on Friday… It feels good to have accomplished my goal and self published… But now I feel restless and my mind’s already working on the next story… But I’m determined to take this week off..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, take a week and enjoy the accomplishment. And the best way to recover from finishing a book is to start a new one — you got that right! Happy Writing!


      • Thanks! It’s called CHLOE. It’s on the Barns and Noble website. Easy to find if you put my name in search area. Paperback and ebook formats… Formating paperback was…waaaay difficult! I feel anxious just thinking of putting another one up when I have a book ready again….

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Reaching the end is a mixed blessing for me as well, although I don’t bother writing those two words. I well know that the end is many drafts away.

    For me the real cathartic time is clicking the publish button. That’s when I’ve decided the story is “grown up” enough to release into the world. Messing with it anymore will be counterproductive.

    Congrats on reaching the end of your draft, though. It’s definitely a milestone worth celebrating. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  6. joylennick says:

    I know exactly how you feel, Diana, although I’ve only written one novel…Most of my other writing – apart from short stories and poetry – was factual: memoir, true adventure; humour, and articles.In the present book I’m writing, I have already shed tears over a few deaths….and just know I’ll miss it at its end… x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some bloggers mentioned the sense of loss after completing any large project that we’ve invested time and meaning into. That makes sense to me, so I’m not surprised that you’ve felt that strange disorientation. Good luck with your current writing, Joy. If you’re feeling it, so will your readers. 🙂


  7. Kintaricus says:

    I feel the same way when it comes to closing the story😭. I get the same connection for my characters, but when it’s time to say goodbye. It’s saying you’ll never see your best friend ever again💔. Hopefully you can follow me while I continue creating more poetry and stories to broaden everybody’s mind and bring a smile to everybody’s faces!😀

    Liked by 1 person

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