Struggling with Your Book Manuscript? Just Write!

Photo/TaraRossHow’s that book you’re NOT writing coming along?

I must admit, writing a book is not at all what I expected, even though it’s been my dream for a long time.

I did refer to it as a goal at one point, but someone corrected me by informing me that “goals have deadlines.” So, I suppose it’s just been a distant dream for me—until now.

Now, I DO have a deadline. So, I guess my dream graduated to become a goal. Yay!

Hold on! Why am I so happy? Did I say deadline? Yikes!

In his blog post, “The Totally Boring Process of Writing a Book,” Jeff Goins wrote about his struggle with writing a book.

I think Goins wrote this article just for me.

Wait … did he say “boring”? Why, yes—I think he did! So, what do you think?

Observer. I know some students who NEVER finished writing their master’s theses or doctoral dissertations! They completed the course work for their degrees, compiled volumes of research, but they never turned in their final papers, failing to complete their degree requirements.

I’ve also known a few professors and ministers who used their entire sabbaticals to do research, but they never finished their books. Such wisdom—still packed away and waiting in an obscure files somewhere.

Recently, I listened to several historical fiction writers confess their ongoing struggle, of not beinging able to moving from the research phase of their writing to actually finishing their books.

One writer friend completed a book that she’s been working on for 25 years. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS! Oh, she’s written other books. But this prize was tucked away for safe-keeping until her other projects were finished.

Is this a common problem for writers? I think so.

But who am I to judge other writers? I’ve been collecting research on my book for a decade. That’s why I’ve been so stalled in this phase of the writing process, gathering 10 years worth of research from every nook and cranny of my home and computer files.

Question. So, how do you break away from your research and graduate to writing?

My writing friend, Kathy, shared some wise advice she gleaned from a writers conference: “Put your bottom in the chair, and stay there until you meet your goal for the day.”

So, I wish I had the answer. Perhaps it’s simply these two words—JUST WRITE!

How do you transition from research to writing?

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7 thoughts on “Struggling with Your Book Manuscript? Just Write!

  1. I think most of us can identify with this post, Karen. It’s not easy to see something through to the very end, but oh so satisfying. Mid-way while writing my books, I felt like I did in the third trimester of my pregnancies, “Just ready to get this done.”

    Can’t wait to hold your book baby when it arrives. 😉

    • Well, you of all people know where I came up with the idea for this article. If we live it, we blog about it, right? It’s amazing what I do to keep from writing at time–like blogging or comments on blogs.

      You’re right–this IS like the last few weeks of a long-awaited pregnancy! And I certainly don’t want to have this baby premature. So, I’m tending to it with great care right now.

      Thanks again for the pep talk, Coach!

  2. Aloha Karen,

    Good piece and excellent advice – Just Write. However, may I add a tad to that – Just Write on your Book.

    I make that distinction because a year ago I was a content writer. I churned out happy little romance stories at a good clip – and have a marketing plan for them.

    Then I got tripped up by an agent and fell face first into the quagmire of social media. “Build an author platform,” she said, “Increase name recognition.” I was naïve and it seemed like a good idea. I never considered the cost.

    Now, I still write every day, but a lot of my writing time goes into crafting 300 word blog posts about golf games. I think I’m getting good at it (see http://www.kauaigolf.me) . However, the feedback is addictive and it takes a lot of time.

    On the up-side, I can now honestly say that everyday someone reads something I have written. That feels good.

    But on the down-side, my current heroine has been at dinner with a married man for two weeks now – and I still need to find her a happy ending in two thousand more words.

    I guess this is just a long winded warning. Or maybe I just needed a place to express my resentment at the new demands on my time.

    A Hui Hou,
    Wayne

    • Howdy, Wayne!

      Great advice! And SO true!

      I love this quote by Steve Jobs. I think I would be wise to consider his advice. “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things” (Steve Jobs)

      Wow! Looks like your golf blogging takes you all over the world! Sounds like a great plan to me! Have you written about our nine golf courses here at Hot Springs Village, Arkansas? I don’t play golf, but my son loves it.

      Btw, I’m working on my “bucket list,” and I just added “learning to play golf” and “vacationing in Hawaii.” But I guess I need to say “no” to those things until I finish this manuscript!

      Oh, and let us know your heroine gets out of her escapade with a happy ending. Looks like she should’ve said “no” to that little adventure–but I hope she’s not in too deep! Maybe she’s just a writer, and she just fell for that distraction, instead of finishing her manuscript! Bless her heart!

      Keep writing!
      Karen

      • Aloha Karen,

        Thank you for the lovely reply.

        Now that you have brought it to my attention, I can see that golf and writing are alike (and that Steve Jobs is right). With both golf and writing it takes a while to get down the mechanics, but then it becomes a matter of focus. You know what to do, you know how to do it, you just have to focus long enough to make yourself do it.

        May I insert a pertinent, if blatant, pitch for Hawaii? You might look at my blog post “What do you do with Female non-golfer Houseguests”. It is at http://kauaigolf.me/2015/04/06/what-do-you-do-with-female-non-golfer-houseguest/ . Obviously I am trying to move Hawaii up on your bucket list.

        I will get my little heroine to her happy ending, I just have to apply some of that focus thing. True, she could have avoided most of her problems by simply saying “no” earlier, but that would have taken all of the suspense out of my story. But I have to get that story done so I can move on to the next – I think I will try a career girl – boss – new suitor triangle.

        I hope you get to focus on your writing.

        A Hui Hou,
        Wayne

  3. Karen–loved your piece, because I’m living it. Not the research part, because I’m a contemporary inspirational romance girl, but the part about struggling with the next scene, dialogue, challenging and, yes, just hard work part of it. I also loved Wayne’s comments about the pull to blog, etc., which, in my life of multiple demands, distracts me from the real work of the book. Oh, well, nice to know others feel my pain……….

    • Hi Kathy – thanks for your comments. Yes, I related to Wayne’s comment about the pull to the blog as well. At this point, I’m pretty much ignoring everything and everyone to get this manuscript finished by my deadline. Ugh! And since I tend to struggle with distractions and perfectionism in all areas of life, I’ve had the hardest time pulling all the pieces of my puzzle together without spending too much time on editing the initial drafts of each chapter during that part of the writing process. Not sure how organization works with fiction writers, but I’m learning a lot about my writing style these days. I don’t work well with an outline – it drives me CRAZY at times. My next project will probably be a memoir, but I’m trying not to think about that right now. Next time, I plan to let the chapters reveal themselves as I go. Whew!

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