“It’s the start that stops most people.”
Dr. Rob Gilbert
This is one of my all-time favorite quotes from my friend and mentor Rob Gilbert’s Success Hotline (973.743.4690). How do we leap over this hurdle and begin to get what we want to say down on paper? Brian Klems, online editor at Writer’s Digest, offers some helpful advice in “How to Write a Manuscript: 5 Key Tips:”
1) Don’t fuss with your format: Getting hung up on the nuts and bolts of your manuscript presentation just gets in the way of getting started. So forget about formatting until after you’re done — and dive in to your wordsmithing.
2) Make time to write: We all lead busy lives and every day, we do battle with problems and distractions that can threaten to engulf our time and energy. But whatever the issues we’re facing, if we’re serious about our writing project, we can find a way to carve out 45 minutes to an hour each day to work on it. We can use our lunch hour, commute time, or give up an hour watching TV or surfing the Internet. Somewhere hiding in your day is the time you need to get started; if you have the intention, you’ll find it.
3) Give yourself a road map: While not everyone is a fan of outlines, Brian suggests creating a rough blueprint to help jump start your writing project. By giving an amorphous idea even just a loose structure via an outline, you begin to shape and focus it. Even if you end up taking delicious detours, having a road map in hand can make the whole trip seem less scary and give you the courage to get off the beaten path and write dangerously.
4) “Plot” your chapters: To help keep your story moving, Brian has an intriguing suggestion. As he puts it, the “goal of each chapter is to get from point A to point B. Write up and plug a first sentence and a last sentence into your Chapter Writing GPS, then watch as it guides you throughout each section of your manuscript. Like any fun trip, the coordinates may change a bit, but by having them you’ll be able to get to where you need to go.” Interesting idea — I’m going to try this!
5) Have fun: There’s nothing more exciting than creating characters and shaping a world. When you hit a rough patch, just remember that in the end, we’re playing with words. And write on!