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!

21 thoughts on “A Few Things I Learned Finishing My Manuscript

  1. Wahoo! Congrats on finishing your manuscript!

    Funny how long it takes for people to realize everything seems better after a good night’s rest….or after a 10 minute coffee or watermelon break.

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  2. I know its been a long, long, long time since we “talked”, but I always keep an eye out for your posts in my email. When I saw the title of this post I felt a great sense of pride and had to come right over and read it.

    I’m so happy for you, not just because you finished it, but because you accomplished something that you have worked sooooo hard at for a long time. I couldn’t be happier and I can only imagine how you feel.

    I can’t wait until I can read it, but I guess that’s the next big step, getting it out there eh? Regardless, that’s something to worry about another day, today is a day for joy. I’m so proud of you Carmen, so proud! Big smile on my face right now!!!

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    • I have missed you sooooooooooooo much!

      Thank you! Thank you so much. YOU do know what I went through to finish this, but you know, it’s almost sweeter now. Thank you for your support and kindness – -and yes, for all your help!

      So, I expect an update from you soon. And some pictures of the little one (you think I forgot? No way!). I hope you still have my email.

      You just made my night! Double double good! finished my book, and heard from you! Woohoo! I don’t think it gets better than that! Hugs!

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      • You always make me smile Carmen.

        Any small thing I did for you, and I emphasize small, was done strictly for the good feeling of helping someone who needs it and doesn’t expect it. Well, that and Cookie Crisp.I’m selfish that way, so no need to thank me.

        I will have to give you an update soon, its been too long. There’s the little one, that’s not so little anymore, another little one we just rescued……..oh yeah, and I got married too, so there’s that.

        Like I said, its been a long time, far too long. You most definitely made my night too. I’ll be waiting for my copy of your book to read in the mail Carmen, lol.

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        • OH MY GOODNESS! Congrats! Okay, you need to update me when you can. And, I promise, if my book gets published, I’ll send it along with another box of Cookie Crisp! Too funny!

          Oh, and, if you can. Pics of the “kids” would be much appreciated!

          XXOO!

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  3. Grats!!! I can’t wait to read/purchase/download with cash/credit/iTunes to my iPod/iPad/Kindle/iBooks. That’s quite the accomplishment! To those of us who’ve never even taken a step towards the mountain, those who stand atop the summit leave us in awe.

    I agree with all of your points. The exact same things I might have said with a slightly different twist. Except you gotta be careful with watermelon. I don’t like juice or spaghetti sauce on my keyboard. 🙂

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    • You are the sweetest Tom! I have been so “LAME” lately on reading blogs, but I’m back and it looks like I have much to catch on up with you — thank you for your kindness, your funny-isms (I’m totally messing up your projected vibe, huh?).

      I love that you think you’ll be buying my book at some point! Thanks! I’d like to think it’d be available at some point on all of those venues, but for now, well, it’s just at the Editor’s. We’ll see what happens next and I’ll surely keep you posted!

      Oh, and you’re sooooo right about juices on the keyboard…I should have emphasized: No eating near my desk. Not even in the same room! Just for those breaks you need to take while writing…. Yeah, good call!

      🙂

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  4. Hey sister! So happy for you. I look forward to reading the book when all is said and done. Be proud of yourself-what a feat!

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  5. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    I am very happy for you and very proud of you. You’ve brought to life many of the things I’m learning in my writing program at Emory. So what’s the story with The Next Step, publishing?

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    • Well, the manuscript is with an Editor at the moment. When that gets returned to me, I’m sure I’ll have some editing to do, some changes to make. And then yes, if it’s meant to be, we’ll be on the road to hopefully getting it published… I’ll keep you posted! Thank you Dennis!

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      • Thank you so much! And interestingly to my surprise, I do have a thought for the next book! I think it will go easier because I know some new things NOT TO DO.

        But, I also have the business end, the editing end, the re-write end to look forward to on book number one. And although I’m glad the creative part is over — I so love THAT part so much more than what’s coming next. I’m trying to stay in the moment grateful that at least I finished!

        As always, so glad you stopped by! xo!

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