#3: Start Your Manuscript – And Don’t Stop for ANYTHING!

Have you started a manuscript? Have you finished one?

The Number One Rule Above All Others: WRITE. THE. BOOK.

Vomit it out! Be a novel-ist, not a chapter-ist! Get the dang thing down on *virtual* paper, start to finish. Cross that line. Do not go back and rerun parts of the race before you reach the end.

Sure – the first draft will be very rough. Some of it will be truly awful. That’s a given. But you can’t edit an unwritten book. And to be able to say, “Why, yes, I have completed a book-length manuscript” puts you ahead of 99% of the people who begin this process.

The sense of accomplishment is so amazing, you have to experience it to understand. I printed out my first manuscript to manually edit, and just showing people the stack of pages was thrilling. Along the way you’ll find out if you actually know how to tell a story. And if you truly know your characters. If you hear their voices. If their experiences move you.

Rule #2: TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY.

Take your writing seriously or no one else will.

You might have a fulltime job as I did; writing is now your part-time job (15 hours a week or more). Set aside a place to WORK. Set aside regular hours to WORK. Explain to those people in your life who matter that you are WORKING. Don’t let them “guilt” you out of WORKING.

When my son said my writing was a hobby because I wasn’t getting paid to do it, I didn’t paddle him (full disclosure: he is 6’3″ and 24 years old). But I did ask him how many rock bands he knew of that were paid to perform before they learned how to play their instruments. Their hours of practice are WORK. Learning to write is WORK.

And whatever you do, don’t apologize for being a novice or denigrate your process. Everyone starts somewhere. Hold your head high and say, “I’m learning how to write a novel.” Treat your new vocation as “author” with respect. It deserves that respect and so do you.

Rule #3: ONCE YOU START WRITING NO ONE WILL “GET IT” BUT OTHER WRITERS.

This is simply a true statement. It’s an odd calling, one involving talking to yourself, crying over your laptop or laughing out loud at apparently nothing. We might appear to be alone, but in reality we are surrounded by invisible people living invisible lives.

It’s very possible that those closest to you won’t be interested in reading your drafts, or even listening while you read your manuscript bits aloud. They might roll their eyes when you talk about a character. They’ll say cruel things like, “But it’s not real!”

What can you do about that? First – forge on anyway! Know that these people aren’t being mean; those responses are the norm. They simply don’t understand the experience nor the process. Second – join a group of genre writers. I’ll blog more on that in a week or so, but for now, think about what you want to write and what genre(s) it fits into. Start Googling groups in your area.

By the way – if you know anyone who is thinking of trying their hand at writing PLEASE refer them to this blog. I’ll be covering more technical aspects about writing, publishing and marketing yourself (no, it’s NOT too early!) as we move forward. It’s a good time for them to jump in!

Now, enough on the internet. Get to WORK.

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10 Responses to “#3: Start Your Manuscript – And Don’t Stop for ANYTHING!”


  1. 1 Maeve Greyson 12/07/2009 at 4:58 PM

    Well said, Kris! You are a true motivational speaker for us all. Thank you for another excellent post. šŸ™‚

  2. 2 Pat McDermott 12/08/2009 at 7:22 PM

    Kris, I’m enjoying your blog. This post reminds me of the #1 Golden Rule for Writers – Put Butt in Chair and Write šŸ™‚ Will look forward to future posts.

  3. 3 kristualla 12/08/2009 at 9:20 PM

    Thanks! I actually wore out my laptop in less than 3 years putting so many hours with my butt in that chair!

  4. 4 amberscottproject 12/09/2009 at 8:05 AM

    These are excellent points, Kris! You have to be your first fan, you have to keep going and we need our fellow writers. It takes a village to raise a book, my friend Ann Charles likes to say. If it’s okay, I’m going to put your link up on my blog, http://amberscottproject.com.
    :}Amber Scott

  5. 6 Laurie Schnebly Campbell 12/09/2009 at 9:20 AM

    Wow, Kris, I don’t know how I missed your blog until now — but it’s fabulous! Definitely going on my list of Where To Send Friends Who Say They’re Thinking About Writing A Novel. šŸ™‚

    Laurie, who’ll enjoy watching the whole thing take off!

  6. 8 operationplay 12/10/2009 at 7:18 PM

    I am loving your blog, too. This is exactly where I stand, and the keyboard is the cliff. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  7. 9 frankierobertson 08/01/2010 at 5:03 PM

    Hey Kris,

    I’m catching up on some of your older posts. This was exactly what I needed to read today.

    Thanks,
    Frankie


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