Spring ushers in new life and hope. In harmony with the same spirit, I encourage you to dust off your forgotten manuscript or begin writing the story that has been in the attic of your heart, abandoned with fleeting promises of someday getting to it! This Easter, resurrect your book! Here are three tips for breathing life into your writing goals:
1. To ensure you start and finish your book, craft an outline!
Designing a skeleton for your book is essential. As Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” List out the different sub-subjects (chapters) you want to target if it’s a non-fiction book. If it’s a novel, lightly write out a linear timeline of how you imagine the story to go.
Once you’ve got the bigger bones sketched out, add in the important, small bones that may seem insignificant but are requisite. Go in beneath those main points and create sub-points, diving into more detail on what and how you wish to write about a certain subject.
Here is a visual example of what I would do if I was writing a book about cats:
You get the gist! Feel free to add even more points under the sub-points. The more detail you provide yourself, the less you will face writer’s block when it comes time to sit down and write. If you can’t think of everything, don’t fret! Leave those spots blank. You should not expect to know every single bullet point in one afternoon or a week. They will also come to you eventually as you begin writing your book.
2. Set a timeline! Be generous and give yourself a realistic deadline for finishing your book — factor in your job, school, family time, and vacations. Keep in mind that if you want it bad enough, you will make time for it!
If you set a goal to write a chapter a week or a chapter every two weeks, make sure to reserve allotted writing times just for you and your book. Whether it’s a Tuesday night from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm or Saturday morning after you get your workout in, choose a time you believe will work best for you and be open to trial and error.
Have a writing spot prepared — whether it is your room, office, or comfy couch; you know you will focus and get chapters accomplished there. A stimulating soundtrack or a background bossa nova can help some get in the zone. For others, they may need to be around noise and people! For lovers of lively environments, consider finding a good coffee shop. That way, you can take yourself out of your everyday environments and associate your mind with a specific place where you write.
3. Revise, revise, revise! When writers finish their first draft, they tuck it away out of sight to fade the rose tint from their glasses for about a month or so and go about their everyday lives. Know that your manuscript may look worse than you remember it. But do not let that discourage you! When it comes to their second draft, these aforementioned writers go and open their drawer or go into their folder on their computer once more, brace themselves for the worst, roll up their sleeves, and get cracking.
All well-written and respected books get several editing revisions (even this blog took five revisions to get it to this okay condition). A rough draft is like a large slab of marble with its shape roughly carved out. Each session an artist goes in, he refines, corrects, and details it to free it of any error. This is a tedious and patient process, but the results are like fine wine in the end. Do not seek perfection in your books; rather, seek diligence and excellence, and you will love your book in the end.
Let these three tips be part of a bigger diving board for your manuscript to come to life. Instead of new year resolutions, I desire to inspire you to set spring resolutions. May the sprouting of new life and the scent of peonies swirling in the air encourage you to birth your book this season so that when summer arrives, you may watch it blossom to its full potential before your eyes!
— Hosana, Editing Team