Some writers are notorious for starting manuscripts they just can’t finish. It’s not about being lazy. Other factors can block the writing process and the writer ends up with yet another unfinished manuscript. I was one such writer until I discovered an interesting solution.
I started writing fiction when I was in my teens. Unfortunately, I started writing many of what I thought would be novels – only to never finish writing them. The problem was that I kept getting new ideas for stories and, instead of finishing the one I was writing, I started writing that new story.
Another factor that can stop a writer in their tracks when they are trying to write a book is a lack of research. I had this problem, too. For example, I would assign my character a profession but I had no idea what that job entailed. Many writers suggest to make a note about researching it later, and to keep writing the story.
Finally, another roadblock keeping the writer from finishing their manuscript is writer’s block, otherwise known as a “creative block.” This, too, occurred when I tried to write a novel. I had the idea for the first chapter but that was it. It was several months later when I came across a call for manuscripts that prompted me to pick that chapter up, and finish writing the rest of the story!
Many publishing companies often have an open reading period in which they invite writers to submit manuscripts for consideration. Some of the bigger publishers, such as Chronicle Books, will occasionally do this as well, often with the term “open call” for manuscripts. These submission windows are an opportunity for writers who have not yet signed with that publisher to submit a manuscript to them.
I have also found that these open calls are a great way for me to finish writing those manuscripts I was struggling with.
In the situation mentioned above, a publishing company I liked had an open call for manuscripts: Novels, novellas and short story collections. I write all three and, since I really wanted to join this publishing company’s list of authors, I grabbed that single chapter I had written, and got busy! I got to know my main characters better, I kept my focus on this story alone, and I did research about things related to the story. I also had ideas for chapters, and made lists of those. I wrote everything down and soon I had a complete novella on my hands.
Even if the publisher ultimately rejects your manuscript, you have proven to yourself that you CAN write an entire book. And, that will make it far easier to finish the next one, and the next.
That’s the beauty of an open call for manuscripts: They give writers the kick in the pants to finish writing their books if they truly want to submit them for publication. Just make sure your book meets their guidelines. Needless to say, your unfinished manuscript should also be the kind of book they publish.
In order to find these open calls, check out Horror Tree, Authors Publish, and Duotrope. Those sites occasionally list a publishing company’s open call.
Alternatively, consider publishing your book through Booklocker.
Whatever choice you make, read the open calls publishers occasionally announce in order to get inspired with ideas. It may also renew your determination to finally finish writing the book that’s been stuck in your drawer or computer.
In addition to writing books, Dawn Colclasure is a freelance writer, ghostwriter and book reviewer. Her books include Burning the Midnight Oil: How We Survive as Writing Parents, 365 Tips for Writers: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity, and Burning the Midnight Oil Revisited. She lives with her husband and children in Eugene, Oregon. Her websites are https://dawnsbooks.com and https://www.dmcwriter.com. Follow her on Twitter @dawncolclasure.
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