Is your book project stuck? Tackling that unfinished manuscript can seem like a daunting task. Approached systematically, taking you and your book from just started to happy and finished is often easier than you think. Here are three systems you’ll want to implement to get your manuscript moving quickly.
1. Create a system to capture and organize ideas
Having a portable system for recording your thoughts is essential in the initial stages of writing your book. You never know when you might think of something you’ve forgotten or want to add. Writers are known for coming up with the brightest ideas at the most inopportune times. You know the feeling: you’re busy with another important task, and that idea pops up.
The obvious, and often overlooked, solution: always carry a small notebook or note cards with you to capture stray thoughts and ideas. Note cards are an especially great writing tool, because they can be easily grouped and organized at a later time. Notebooks can be used for specific types of notes, for example, gathering information on a particular research topic or capturing dialogue ideas. Both note cards and notebooks allow you to collect ideas and generate new ones.
2. Create a system for consistent writing
It is very likely that you will experience “writer’s block” several times in the process of creating your book. You may get tired of the subject or just find it exhausting to sit down every day to work on an unfinished manuscript. Persistence is key to completing the task you have started. Create a system for consistent writing (a schedule) and stick to it.
Many writers benefit from writing at a set time of day or during a designated period of time each day. Yes, this will get monotonous, but the basic repetition will keep a steady flow of words going. If you hit a dead end, allow yourself to take a short break. Set aside a space to write. If you’re having trouble getting started, write two pages of anything and then go back to your topic. Or make up a quick silly story to kick start your creativity. Don’t make the mistake of editing while writing your first draft. Keep writing every day with a consistent time and place, and you’ll be amazed at your progress.
3. Create an Editing and Evaluation System
In terms of content, list the key topics to cover and check them off as you move towards the completion of your manuscript. Keep track of sources and research, creating a separate page, computer file, or file folder for each. Create checkpoints to verify your work once the write is complete.
Remember to separate the writing and editing processes. Ultimately, this will save you time and simplify each process. Also, editing should be done in stages. Carry out a first review of your manuscript, looking only at the organization and structure. On the second reading, examine the meaning and the message. Finally, check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
It doesn’t matter how you start writing your book, what matters in the end is finishing it. Install these three must-have systems, add organization and persistence, and you’ll quickly move your manuscript forward and be ready to share your remarkable book with the world.