A Few Things I Learned Finishing My Manuscript

Yes!  I finished my first manuscript.  But I learned a few things I hope to remember for next time.  

WRITER’S EXHAUSTION.  I didn’t experience writer’s block, but I did experience writer’s exhaustion.  I could write and write and write, but I knew it wasn’t any good. I’d get upset, put myself down – all the things we do as creatives.  Eventually I figured out it was like anything else.  When I was a dancer, sometimes I would just go over something so many times and I’d still not get it right no matter how hard I tried.  My coach would finally stop me and just say, “Let’s call it a night Carmen and try again in the morning.” And although I’d be disappointed, I got permission to stop.  I’d go home, rest, eat, and come back the next day to try again – generally in a better space.  More times than not, I’d perform the dance step with no problem at all.  For me, writing functions the same way.  Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to stop.  Rest.  And then go back to it in the morning.

KNOW HOW YOU WORK.  It took me a while to understand this, but I can’t create under duress.   There are so many people who work well under pressure, thrive under tragedy, who can multi-task, work 50 hours a week, raise three kids, volunteer at an animal shelter, while dealing with some personal health issue AND write a book at the same time.  Not me. I just don’t do well unless everything else in my life is as I need it to be.  And understanding and accepting the kind of artist you are, helps in how you schedule your writing life. I kept trying to cram so many things in my day and when my writing was horrible, I didn’t think it was because I had too much on my plate.  No, I just thought I was a horrible writer.  So, once I realized that wasn’t the case, I made some adjustments:  I stopped acting, doing voice-over work and taking on new clients, just to finish the book.  It’s what I needed to do.  And I’m glad I did.

HAVE PLENTY OF WATERMELON EASILY AVAILABLE.  Or whatever it is you like to munch on. I made the mistake too many times of not having my fridge stocked with everything I might want to eat or drink on a day of writing. Being hungry and trying to write is like being hungry and anything else.  It’s not good. So, watermelon was my best friend this summer.

KNOW WHEN YOU’RE DONE.  I was done with my manuscript about two months ago. But, because I couldn’t stop editing and re-working a story or a character, I didn’t know I was done.  Finally, a good friend of mine just said, “Carm, I think you’re finished.”  He hadn’t read it, hadn’t seen it, he was just pretty sure that for the most part I’d done the hard work.  Now I just needed to embrace that I was finished and move onto the next step.  He was right. Once I realized I was pretty much done, I understood that my own self-editing was probably not helping me anymore and that it was time to go onto the next step – let someone I trust read it.

Who knows what will come of this first book of mine. But, it’s done. And it feels absolutely brilliant!

I wish you all a feeling of accomplishment and joy in whatever it is you’re working on today!

Keep on writin’!

Cheers!