Saturday, November 10, 2012


The hard part of writing a manuscript is writing.

Did I say that right?  Am I communicating my point?  Does it sound redundant or too simple? Is it accurate?  

Maybe I should rewrite it. 

A story in your head is different from a story told and put down on paper – or on a screen.  Building a manuscript  is a work of thought, developing the embryonic idea into a truth with beauty and life.  When building this, writers write; then read what they write; and then rewrite.  Eventually even the best writers face a time of dryness when the words stop coming....  They call it writer’s block, but it should be called writer’s slow death.

When writing The Poisonwood Bible, Karen Kingsolver admitted that the scope of the book daunted her, causing a writer’s block that plagues the best of us.  “For many years,” she wrote later, “I had instead of a manuscript, a file cabinet; its imaginary label was the ‘Damned Africa Book’ or later just D.A.B.”

Hemingway, when asked what he struggled with when he wrote and rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied, answered “Getting the words right.”

Getting the words right.

Even Hemingway,  so precise and clear - so free of pretence- struggled with getting the words right.  The best advice I ever got about writing was “Just do it.”  Start, tell.  Get it down, read it make spelling changes, then move on.  Keep going.  Keep telling.  Do it , do it, do it. 

Starting a novel at anytime is a challenge.  NaNoWriMo is a dare to us – let’s band together and begin at the beginning.  As I’ve set out on the process I realize the weight of responsibility to introduce my audience to a wide spectrum of characters, give them a good peek at their lives and then most of all, keep them reading.  What makes a reader interested?

It’s important for people who are trying to do a manuscript in 30 days (ONE MONTH!!) to do it.  According to some of my favorite writers, getting it down is first, then refining comes later.  Using their words, here’s some encouragement:

·         “Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.

·         “Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.”
                                        ~ Mark Twain

·         “I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.”
                                      ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs

·         “Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.”
                                            ~Ray Bradbury

Here are some tips that I use to make the process of writing a manuscript  in 30 days a little more relaxed:

  • ·         Keep a calendar – Write and record how much you’ve written.  Diaries can’t lie and you will see when you are most productive
  • ·         Make your writing station as comfortable as you can - I’m sitting on a barstool at  the counter of my kitchen, close to coffee and tissues at my left hand.  There is a small and functional desk lamp that illuminates my keypad.
  • ·         Bring other people in on your goal – Once accountable you may be more productive!  Also friends can encourage you, motivate you, pray for you....
  • ·         Believe that you can do it- Goals are either motivators or accusers.  In the face of accusations it is important to remember that the story must go on.  You can do it!!
  • ·         Read when you are “stuck” – something in the same genre you are writing is best.  Reading frees up your troubled mind (the part that keeps tripping).

NaNoWriMo has its own website: is very helpful and encouraging.  Check it out!!

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – a manuscript really isn’t finished after 30 days!  Nevertheless,at the end of 30 days you should have in your hand the broad brushstrokes of a manuscript – a rough draft with characters and ideas that are alive and waiting for you to perfect their environment.

Then you can get to the real work of writing: re-writing.  


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