Five years ago, I was pulled into the 2016 election and asked to ghostwrite a book for one of the presidential campaigns.
I had just resigned my position as pastor of a church and was trying to switch gears and begin focusing full-time on my writing and publishing pursuits. A failed business venture that unraveled the week after my resignation left me with few options of generating income.
Then the campaign people reached out to me.
“We need you to write a 70,000 word manuscript in seven weeks. Can you do it?”
I gulped. My average word count for writing in one week was probably 2,000 words. How on earth would I be able to bump it to 10,000?
“Not a problem,” I stammered.
If I didn’t hit the target in time, my contract stipulated the publisher could penalize me $250 a day. Nothing like a little motivation to keep me focused.
After a quick trip to Washington where we met in the presidential candidate’s apartment seven blocks from the White House, I jumped in and started my work.
To be honest, the next seven weeks produced some of the best research and writing in my life. And in the end, I finished a few days early.
How did I do it?
How Are You Going To Finish That Manuscript?
In less than twelve weeks, 2020 will come to a merciful end. You’ve started your manuscript and you’ve been talking about finishing it.
Between now and Thanksgiving (that’s once a week), we’re going to give you Seven Essential Strategies to Finish Your Manuscript in 2020. If you’re doing the NaNoWriMo thing in November, this should help you accomplish your goal. Along the way you’re going to hear from me, Karen Bouchard, and Larry Yoder.
Incidentally, between now and Thanksgiving, Karen, Larry and I are offering a FREE 30-minute consultation to help you hit the mark. Click on the name below to schedule your free consultation:
You’ve started your manuscript and you’ve been talking about finishing it. So how are you going to finish that manuscript this year?
Essential Key #1. Remove Your Distractions
When I sat down at my desk after returning from Washington, I knew I needed to remove anything and everything that would distract me from my goal. Here are some tips I’ve learned since starting my professional writing career in 1997:
Get buy-in from your family. For eighteen years, I worked full-time as a pastor and part-time as a freelance writer. Before I agreed to ghostwrite a book for a publisher, I always sat down with my wife to count the cost. My wife agreed to get the kids ready for school and take care of everything related to dinner. I agreed to cover certain family responsibilities.
The payoff for the family depended on the needs at our time. I’ve reduced debt, paid for my house to be re-roofed, I even paid for the birth of one of my daughters. It’s a trade-off.
If you don’t get buy-in from your family, you’re setting yourself up for misunderstandings and a major distraction.
Don’t skip this step.
Prioritize. Even in the midst of a lockdown, myriad distractions vie for your attention. Maybe you’re in the middle of Netflix series or you enjoy spending Saturdays watching college football. To finish your manuscript by the end of the year, you’re going to need to make sacrifices and bump your manuscript toward the top of your priority list.
Manuscripts don’t write themselves.
Create a distraction-free space. Unless you’re gifted with superhuman focus, you probably won’t be able to write your book at the kitchen table. You need to find a home base, where you can return day after day. A place where your kids or a blaring television won’t distract and tempt you to leave your spot.
If you live in a loud household like me, you might want to buy some noise-cancelling earbuds to drown out the noise. Last month, I purchased Apple’s Airpods Pro. They’re pricey, but WOW! are they good at canceling sound!
Collect all your tools. You need your computer, perhaps a notepad, and maybe some books. Get it all together ahead of time so you aren’t tempted to leave your writing area and then get distracted again. Ideally, you want to leave your tools in the same place so you don’t need to collect them every time you write.
Start big picture. Here are a few helpful questions to ask:
- How much time do I still need to finish outlining my book?
- What outside research do I still need to complete?
- Who do I need to interview?
- What is my target word count? Hint: Nonfiction manuscripts need to be under 55,000 words and fiction under 100,000 words, in most cases. In most cases, less is more.
Establish a timeline. Without a timeline, you won’t finish your manuscript. I guarantee it.
The best way to hit your deadline is to schedule something important immediately following it. How about a family party to celebrate your accomplishment? Or maybe you have a holiday vacation planned? What can you schedule after the deadline that will force you to hit your goal on time?
On a spreadsheet, establish an ATTAINABLE weekly writing goal. I usually divide the target word count by the number of weeks. Take into account that we always write slower in reality than we do in our head. If you’d like a copy of the spreadsheet I use, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Establish a writing schedule. I’ll delve into this topic deeper in two weeks, but suffice it to say, you need to schedule blocks of writing time in order to hit your weekly word count. If you’re like me, I need at least an hour to pick up momentum.
Start writing. Writing your manuscript is much more difficult than the idea of writing your manuscript.
Don’t be like my friend who once commented to me, “It’s all up here [pointing to his head]. All I need to do is write it down.”
Seven years later, the manuscript is still stuck in his head.
The new year is a little less than twelve weeks away. YOU CAN DO THIS!!
Ready to dig in to your manuscript but still need a sounding board? Let’s chat! Schedule your free consultation today.
President / MKlassen@IllumifyMedia.com