Attempting Perfection: A Practical.... Realistic Guide for Writing Your First Manuscript
1a. Unleash The Muse – That creative portion of the brain which usually beckons in the middle of an important meeting.
1b. Throw The Editor into the closet. Make sure there is no interaction between The Muse and The Editor. They don't get along. For best results, perform steps 1a and 1b simultaneously.
2a. Get a cup of your beverage of choice.
2b. Choose your method of brainstorming: Mind only, (not recommended), paper and pen/pencil, or computer. If using the computer, kick your teenager off. Make her read a book.
3. Let The Muse speak. Ignore The Editor's screams.
4. Brainstorm. Resists the urge to scratch out or delete ideas. You never know when a talking mouse who dictates his manuscript to a cat will morph into a lovely story about a dog who saved the author's best manuscript from a fire, thus saving the author's sanity.
5. Review the list from step 4. You may attempt to limit The Muse, but do not let out The Editor just yet. See which ideas develop further, and save the rest for the next bout of writer's block.
6. Develop one or two ideas further. Try writing out some of each story to see which works best.
7. If you did not already do so in step 2b, kick your teenager (child, spouse, sibling, or parent) off of the computer.
8. Refill cup.
9a. Start writing. It doesn't matter where; the beginning, the middle, the end, the dedication, the index, the copyright page.... Okay. That last option may be going a bit far.
9b. It should be noted that at this point, "Save" should be inserted after every step. "Control-S" (or your software's equivalent) should be an involuntary movement. A repetitive twitching motion is perfectly acceptable.
10. Wash, rinse, repeat.
11. Refill cup.
12. Use restroom. If you actually made it this far, and didn't add this in as a step b (or c) congratulations.
13. Delete gibberish the cat wrote.
14. Continue writing.
15. See step 10.
17. Wash, rinse, repeat.
18. Take a sanity break.
19. Break up fight between the kids
20a. Pick up the baby, who was awaked by children's fight.
20b. Carefully refill your cup while the baby tries to take a drink.
21. Walk back to the computer room with baby. Lock door. If this is not possible, put a sign near you which says Disturb this author upon risk of death, dismemberment, or listening to a running monologue of the author's ramblings. Your choice.
22. While holding baby, type as quickly as possible using one hand, seeing as you can't fully extend your other arm.
23. After you feel the drool run down your shirt, sneak out of the room to put baby back to sleep.
24. Feed family members.
25. Lock yourself in the computer room again.
26. Delete gibberish written by cat.
27. Repeat steps 10, 11, and 14, through 16 in any order.
28. Insert steps 8 and 12 as needed.
29. Once you finally have something somewhat acceptable, throw The Muse into the closet and let out The Editor. See step 1b for tips. The Editor may need an ice pack.
30. Have constructive dialogue with The Editor. Be open to the objections of The Muse. This is a very crucial negotiation. You may need to call in the UN.
31. Insert drink and restroom breaks as needed. This will be a very long process.
32. Let someone else read the negotiated version. Be ready for even more negotiation.
33. Congratulations. Your manuscript is complete.
34. Send it off to a professional editor. Listen to her. Wear your armor. Tell that sensitive part of your brain to take a chill pill.
35. Repeat steps 30 through 32 and 34 as needed.
36. Send publishers inquiries. When one responds, send them your baby. No, not the child you were rocking to sleep; the paper one. If you get an acceptance letter, rejoice. Let your family speak to you again without fear.
37. The publisher will probably have its own editor, and step 35 will be repeated, with some variations.
38. Above all, remember Who you are writing for. We are His instruments. Let Him use you.
Disclaimer: This isn't an exact science. Changes will be needed to suit your own personal preferences. The author of this list takes no responsibility for results from strict adherence to these steps.
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