I Take Thee … Making That Commitment to Your Book

“Congratulations on your book.”

People are impressed with anyone who has completed the task of writing a whole book. There are thousands, if not millions, of people who have sat down to a keyboard to start writing a book but never finished it.

The first hurdle that most encounter is what I call the Forty-Page Block. It’s not always page forty. Sometimes it’s page twenty-five or page one hundred and twenty-five. Whichever page number it is, at some point there’s a block that separates the authors from the wannabes.

At this hurdle, many writers will simply throw in the towel and walk away without looking back.

Others will try to get around the block in this book by starting a second book. Inspired by ideas from Book One, Book Two may even be a sequel to its unfinished predecessor. Then, the writer will be hit with another inspiration too good to ignore and abandon that project to start another and then another. I once met a writer who had over a dozen unfinished manuscripts.

The Forty-Page Block stems from lost of interest in the project. Maybe the writer has a short attention span. Maybe the project isn’t worth the paperless Word Doc it’s written on. Whatever the reason, when the book ceases to be new and fresh, the writer doesn’t want to work on it anymore.

In many ways, writing a book is like a romance.

New loves are exciting: the excitement of that first date; getting to know each other; those special pains to keep your stomach tucked in; and looking for little signs to tell you if this is the one that will last forever.

It is usually about the time that your stomach starts aching from keeping it tucked in that the relationship ceases to be fun anymore. Those little signs that you thought signaled this as being the one are now starting to annoy you.

The thrill is gone. At this point, the relationship is going to take some work if it’s to make it down the aisle.

Like lovers that walk after the first fight, many writers bail the day they sit at the keyboard and the words aren’t flowing as easily as they were at the first writing session. Suddenly, this book isn’t as exciting as that sexy plotline thought of while staring out the study window.

Commitment phobic writers that want to become published authors need to stop leaving unfinished manuscripts in every folder and vow to begin a monogamous relationship with one book and one book only.

Authors that have completed manuscripts under their belts will stick to a project through thick and thin. Even when he’d rather watch the game with the guys, he’ll go to that laptop and churn out five or six pages.

When he finds himself staring at the same Word Doc that he’s been looking at for the last seven weeks and sees that it’s not looking very pretty, the author doesn’t walk away. He’ll work even harder to rekindle that flame of passion. He’ll stick with it, no matter what it takes – even if it means a complete rewrite, which it often does.

Walking away or running off with another book is no option for the true author. Yes, sexy plotlines may be more fun, and easier to work on, but those flings will only be distractions in reaching the goal of seeing this relationship to the end — that being publication.

So, if you’re a writer seeking to become the author of that one finished manuscript, I call on you now to take the plunge and make that commitment by putting your right hand on your keyboard and repeating after me:

I, state your name or pen name , take thee book title to be my published book. To compose and obsess, for rewrite and edit, in polishing and proofreading, from this day forward, until publication do we part.

You two make a beautiful couple.

  • Lauren, I congratulate you on your imaginative view of failed writers as lovers too fickle to see their projects through to the end. I suppose I can afford to laugh. I’m one of those with the opposite problem: we fall deeply, madly, desperately in love with our stories, often meeting up with them in the middle of the night just to see once again how beautiful they are. What the rest of world might think of them is entirely beside the point

  • Excellent post. I’m just like that. I have multiple projects that I’ve started that after a while seem so banal. I should pick one and make the commitment… Just after I start this next one ’cause its got this great scene…

    • Simon, please think great story first. The great scenes come later. They fit. They work. They move the story onward.

  • Ron, A beautiful manuscript is in the eye of the author. Simon, don’t go breaking that next project’s heart.

    • Lauren, “a beautiful manuscript is in the eye of the author” sums it up better than I could ever hope to do. Thank you again for this post.

  • stickravenpress

    Jack Gantos once told me that a book is a marathon. And the world is full of sprinters.

    For me, if my novel isn’t about something so damned important, that I just have. to. write it, then I pass. Life’s too short to waste on on trifles.

    • Stick Raven, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • Great article! Life gets so busy, but I still plug along. Commitment does not intimidate me:

    I, Emily Thorne, take thee Resilient Heart to be my published book. To compose and obsess, for rewrite and edit, in polishing and proofreading, from this day forward, until publication do we part.

    Thanks for the reassuring inspiration. 😉

    • I feel as if I’ve been present at your wedding. I hope Resilient Heart gives you everything you want from your partner in your adventure.

  • This is such a sweet post! And I’m such a commitment-phobe. I hope I’ll be able to say this to a manuscript idea someday 🙂