4 Reasons Your Manuscript
This week has dawned with a new hope for me, one that I have never experienced before. It's the kind of thrill you feel rush through you as you type the words “The End”
Four years, and this is the first time I've written that. I will say, I can't describe the feeling. While I still have half a dozen unfinished manuscripts, this one is actually done.
Maybe you've done it (if you have, please share your experience with us!). But maybe you haven't. Maybe you, too, have half a dozen unfinished manuscripts, but have never typed “The End”.
Ever since I felt that thrill of “The End”, I've been looking back and trying to figure out why it took me four years to get here, and why I started so many stories, but never finished one. These are the four reasons (one for every unpublished year) that I came up with. Maybe they apply to you, too:
You're a perfectionist
I am yet to find a writer who isn't a perfectionist. I think it's a required trait for this profession. Every letter, word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, MUST BE PERFECT.
I was a perfectionist before I was a writer, so when I started writing, it just came naturally. We proofread our words as we write them, and as we're hitting the backspace to fix our mistakes, we are wasting our time and burning out our inspiration. We put our perfectionist glasses on and look with horror at our manuscripts, and all we see is FAILURE. That thought alone banishes our inspiration, and that manuscript is never going to be finished.
Solution: Let it go. Type. Realize that you just misspelled that word, and don't go back to fix it. Spellcheck will always be there. Inspiration will not.
(Confession: I hit the backspace twice on that paragraph. We all need to learn :)
This is a big one for me. Remember the half-dozen unfinished manuscripts? At one time or another, I was working on them all at once. A novel, a screenplay, a couple short stories, a dozen songs, poems, and other little writings. Oh, and a job. And a blog. And a life that doesn't consist of writing.
And that's just me. How many things have you been juggling? Stretching yourself among all of those projects is going to leave you with just that: unfinished projects, never published, never read.
Solution: Two weeks ago, I wrote about my decision to put my biggest project (my novel) on hold. In truth, it was on hold for a long time before that. I lined up all of my projects, my goals, my dreams, and put them in order. Which one was going to come first? That was the one I was going to finish.
And I did. I finished it.
That doesn't mean I've forgotten about the novel. I still think about it, ponder it, and love it. And I plan on returning to it. But laying it aside and realizing that I can't do everything at once has opened up so many other doors. It might hurt, but prioritizing and laying some things aside will be so rewarding in the end.
Your fire fizzled out
We've all had it. The difference is, how long does it last? We write and write and write, then it all just stops. And we never want to write again.
Most of the time, we come back around, but it could be days, weeks, months. Sometimes even years. We call it 'Writer's block', but in reality, it turns out to be the very thing that killed your manuscript. We start out with so much passion and fire, but it slowly fizzles out until it burns up any hope you had of getting published.
Solution: Well, that's different for everybody. We've been fighting writer's block for as long as we've been writing, and while there are different tips, tricks, and solutions, every writer is different. The answer is to diligently look for your solution.
For me, I sit back and step away from my manuscript for a few days, or a week. Then I sit back down, start at page one, and read. (And try to ignore the typos). I'll read it like I would read any other book, and usually that will stir up and rekindle the fire that I once had to write it.
This is the big one. You can overcome writer's block, look past your perfectionism, and have all the passion in the world, but when it comes right down to it, fear will make everything you built crumble.
What are we afraid of? Rejection. Failure. Not being accepted. Not being good enough, popular enough, successful enough. Personally, I'm afraid of all of those. I'm afraid that I just wrote 'The End” on a book that will go unread by everyone except maybe my Mom. Fears like this, for all of us at one point or another, stop us, make us tremble, and send us running from it as fast as we can.
Solution: We're afraid. We're always gong to be afraid. We're always going to sweat as we hit 'submit', whether it's to an agent, a publisher, a magazine, or a Kindle. I'm afraid, but I still wrote 'the end', I'm still editing, and I'm still going to publish it. Because I'm going to be afraid anyway. But it's not going to stop me.
The conclusion of all of this is summed up in a verse I read in Philippians: “..Being confident of this very thing: That He who has begun a good work in you will complete it.”
Our manuscripts are the good works that He has begun in us. They're His words, His stories, and He handed them to us, not so we could get discouraged and give up, but so we, through Him, could complete them.
In the end, that is always what brings me back around: Knowing that He began this work, and that He's going to finish it. Well, one work that He gave me is finished, and once it's published, it's all His.
He told me that a long time ago. He gives us the words, We write them, He does the rest. And I'm just going to let Him do it.