|Is Your Manuscript Stuck??
You finally carved out a little time to work on your manuscript and now you’re sitting in front of your computer screen, ready to dig in.
But first, you need to check your emails…
After replying to some immediate questions, an email announcing a new Facebook message jumps on your screen, pleading for your attention. You quickly check FB Messenger, which diverts your attention to a funny meme, which your share with your friends.
Two hours later, your time’s up and nothing was written.
Happens to the best of us.
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To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever suffered from writer’s block. Usually, it’s disguised as a distraction or a manuscript that’s just plain stuck.
Seven Ideas That Will Move Propel Your Manuscript Forward
Here are seven ideas that will help you focus on getting your manuscript unstuck:
1. Suck it up, Buttercup.
Sometimes—actually most of the time—I just don’t feel like sitting down and pounding away. I’d rather watch Netflix or hang out with the family. But after about fifteen minutes behind the keyboard, the creative energies kick in and I’m off to the races.
No one is forcing you to obey your feelings. Take control and…
Just. Write. That. Book.
2. Be consistent.
“Mike, I feel like I’m finally making progress on my manuscript,” an author told me earlier this week. “I’m really enjoying working on my book.”
What made the difference for her? School started and her kids returned to class, creating time for her to work on her manuscript every day during the day.
Starting and stopping require so much more energy than working on your manuscript on a consistent basis.
Read that again.
Even if you give it thirty minutes every morning, you’ll pick up momentum on your manuscript and actually start enjoying it.
Consistency builds momentum, which saves you time and energy. Starting and stopping is an energy suck.
3. Write while you wait.
Back in the day, I was tasked with driving my seven-year-old daughter to play rehearsal twice a week. So what did I do?
Rather than nap in the car, I drove to a nearby coffee shop where I enjoyed two glorious, uninterrupted hours of writing time. I wrote Strange Fire, Holy Fire, almost entirely in that coffee shop in north Denver.
Look, I understand that we all crave four-hour Saturday morning blocks in our schedule so we can write. Sometimes, the only way we’re going to finish that manuscript is by taking advantage of the small-time blocks that present themselves.
4. Eliminate ALL your distractions.
This seems so obvious but so overlooked.
If your kids are going to be running around the house, don’t start on your manuscript because you’re just going to spin your wheels…
If your significant other is going to be watching Netflix in the next room, just stop while you’re behind…
Either wait until the house is empty or drive to a nearby library or Starbucks. And once you open your computer, quit your email program and exit any potentially distracting windows in your web browser.
If you suffer from ADHD like most of your readers, turn off your cell phone. Then, in Word, go to the “View” tab and click on the “Focus” button, which further eliminates your distractions.
If you can pull it off, go to bed an hour early and then wake up an hour early, before the family comes back to life. If you’re a night person, do the opposite.
5. Explore the underlying causes.
Sometimes, our past can get in the way of our writing. For example, if you’re working on a memoir, trauma from your background could be subconsciously preventing you from moving forward.
But here’s one way through: write through it.
Twenty-five years ago, a job situation beat the stuffing out of me. I resigned, moved my family back to Denver and into my parents’ basement, and pursued a career as a freelance writer.
My first project was to author a book on prayer. Despite my battered and broken condition, I decided to let my heart guide me through the project. Ernest Hemingway reportedly once said, “Just sit in front of your [keyboard] and bleed.”
And that’s what I did.
I bled on the page, and when memories of my emotional abuse overwhelmed me, I sat back and prayed for my abusers.
My book Prayers to Move Your Mountains became a source of healing for my heart. Six months ago, twenty years after writing it, HarperCollins unearthed the book from their archives and decided to re-release it in 2022.
Most mornings, I journal on my computer and, when necessary, I bleed. The way around that blockage may indeed be through it.
6. Search for a Yoda.
Nothing will stop your manuscript in its tracks faster than not knowing what to do.
How do I outline my book?
How do I pare down my bloated manuscript? I don’t know what to include or delete.
What do I put in my Introduction—or do I even need one?
Don’t let those unanswered questions paralyze you or prevent you from writing that book that will change lives.
Do you remember that scene in the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, when a distraught Luke Skywalker seeks out Yoda to show him the way of the Force? As he finishes training with his mentor, Luke finds the hope and courage to battle Darth Vader.
If you don’t know what to do, then you need a Yoda.
Our book coaches have written multiple, multiple books that have sold millions of copies. They know the way and are eager to show the way.
Click here to learn more about book coaching.
7. Invest Some Skin in the Game.
When I was in college, and my love life was going nowhere, I’d buy two tickets to a concert or some other event even before I knew who I was going to take.
Obviously, it forced me to take action.
Nothing commits you more to finishing your manuscript than putting a little skin in the game.
Not long ago, an author confessed to me, “I know I need to finish my manuscript, but I’ve wrestled with finding the motivation to finish it. So, my husband told me, ‘It’s time to sign a contract.’”
And she did.
And she’s getting that manuscript unstuck.
That’s why we’re here.