Tips for Writing and Finishing Your Manuscript
Sometimes that blinking cursor on your white page is so rude. He never goes away, never sleeps and follows your every word. You know how annoying he is, especially when you are trying to work hard on your manuscript. How can you overcome the desire to turn off your computer and leave the cursor and your manuscript unfinished? By following these five simple tips you can finish your manuscript and begin reaching your publishing dreams.
1. Write every day. Even when you don’t feel like it, even when you hate writing and swear you will never write another word, you must keep writing. The only way to make progress and to become a better writer is to write. If you’re really stuck try using a writing prompt (many can be found online) to get your creative juices flowing and see if those help you take a new direction in your writing. You can also help yourself write every day by establishing a writing routine. This will differ for every person, but for you it may involve a certain chair, or a comfy pair of socks or a cup of coffee from your favorite mug. Doing the same things over and over when you write will help you be focused in your daily writing.
2. Give yourself deadlines & word counts. Part of writing every day is setting small goals and deadlines for yourself. Maybe you set a goal to write for three hours everyday. It will not always be easy to find concentrated chunks of time to write amidst your busy schedule, but if you are committed to your manuscript you will make the time. Another way you can measure your writing progress is to set a word count goal that you try to write every day. This number will vary for every person, so pick a number you can reasonably achieve so you don’t get discouraged.
3. Find inspirational places to write. Some people can only write at home in their favorite chair. Other people need to be surrounded by noise and other people. Others like the atmosphere of a coffee shop or library. As a writer you must decide what works best for you and stick to that. You may also find it helpful to write in places similar to where your book is set. If you are writing a scene from a garden, visit a garden and spend time writing there. Immersing yourself in an environment can help you convey the atmosphere back into your book.
4. Read books on writing. Especially if you are an author just starting out, reading books about writing can be a great help to your own writing. Learning from other authors will only make your writing stronger. There are literally hundreds of books about writing on the market, so do your research and find some that work for you. These could be books about grammar and style like Elements of Style by Strunk and White or author biographies like Stephen King’s classic On Writing. No matter what kind of book you choose it should be one that spurs you on to be a better writer.
5. Open yourself up to critique. Ouch – who really likes to be critiqued, especially in an area as personal as one’s writing? But, having others look at your work and tell you what does and doesn’t work in your manuscript is vitally important to your success as a writer. If you are going to open yourself up to critique be sure to find a group of people – the best are other writers – who will be brutally honest with you. Having your grandma read your book may be a nice gesture, but don’t depend on her to be the only person who gives you feedback.
These tips are certainly not fool-proof because they require tremendous effort on your part. To be a successful writer you must be disciplined and focused or that manuscript will forever stay unwritten. If all else fails, take a moment to go back and think about why you ever wanted to become a writer in the first place. Revisiting your dream may encourage you to go forward and tell that cursor who is boss.
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