Friday, May 17, 2013

The Love/Hate Relationship of Your Manuscript: Why it's Necessary to Feel Both Ways

Some days when you sit at the writer's desk the words flow. They just flow. Your muse is happy and the floodgates come charging through your fingertips like a waterfall of words, a cascade of phrases. Sometimes, it's like that.

You know that smirk that creeps up the edges of your mouth until you can feel the tug in your cheeks and you realize you're happy and writing and the world is truly good and whole and fraught with purpose. Maybe you've outlined like a madwoman or you're just sitting there gripping the sides of your manuscript by the trouser legs and you're ready to pull down hard. Either way, it's good and you can feel it this time, it's better than you've ever written in a long, long time.

It goes something like this:

Me: Hey.
WIP: Hey.
Me: Whatchoowannado?
WIP: I dunno, whatchoowannado?
Me: (whips hair) Come at me, WIP.
WIP: I thought you'd never ask...

(I'll be terribly embarrassed if I'm the only writer who's ever publicly felt this way.) Writers probably understand this better than others. If you're reading this, you've either dabbled at writing, or you're in the profession and this is something you have experienced to one degree or another. Sometimes your MS can become your lover.

You go to sleep at night, sorry to let it go, wishing you could make your eyes stay open to type one more chapter. Your dreams are filled with your characters, your story world, and you religiously keep paper and pen and a flashlight at your bedside to scribble down those inspired bits that haunt your sleeping. When you wake, the first thing you want to do, okay after you pee and get a cup of coffee (or tea), is to boot up the computer and go at it again, find that place you were at last night and keep the momentum going.

You find yourself muttering about your MS when you're at the dreaded day job, or running errands, since your car won't automatically refill with gas, and groceries don't always get shipped to your doorstep (I know there are places that can do that). Your mind is transfixed, racing with thoughts of your MS, scenes playing out on the inside of your eyelids.

This love of your MS is essential for it to ever find you typing the words: THE END.

Equally true, is the hate side of the equation.

There are also those days where you stare at the cursor and nothing is coming from those fingertips. The same ones that magically skipped across your keyboard, typing as fast as your thoughts were flowing, are now sedentary, glued to your home row keys.

Likely, you're in the revising stage, and what once was your opus, your reason for being, the thing you couldn't wait to spend time with, is now the monstrosity you can't believe you ever thought had a lick of merit, anything worthy of an audience, a reader, or something you'd even willingly share with your mother. You're terrified to share this with your betas. If word got out, you'd be a laughingstock among your writer friends. You should probably trunk this bad puppy and move on to something else.

This is when your stubbornness keeps you at the keyboard, slaving at the computer screen, until you think you'll snap off the drawer front of your desk and bash your own skull in and be done with it if you have to edit this damn sentence one. more. time.

Hate is what will make your MS into something sellable.

Without hate, the only person you'll ever get to read it is your mother, and she won't speak to you for a very long time if you decide to drop the torpedo in her lap.

Here are a few thoughts regarding the benefits to both Love and Hate when it comes to your MS:


keeps you going, keeps you coming back for more, keeps you writing, keeps the word count increasing, motivates you toward your goal of finishing the draft. You can't have a complete manuscript without loving it. It just wouldn't happen otherwise. Love is a necessary part of the writing process.


Is the reality check that what you've written is an enormous pile of poo. I'm just going to say it: it stinks. You'd rather Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Blog, Facebook, or use any other social media to avoid dealing with the large turd that is your MS. So you do it: you cheat on your MS. You should feel terrible. Go in the writer box of shame, you!

That said, it's time to make nicey nice with your MS. Go ahead. Give it a hug.


Love and Hate aren't always polar opposites when it comes to your MS.

Sometimes, they both have important jobs to do in the process of writing your book. What's important to realize is that writing doesn't happen perfectly. Words don't just lay down on the page edit free. Writing evolves. It's organic. It happens however and wherever lightning strikes.

Let it happen. Embrace it when you love it, and accept that when you hate it, it's necessary to let go the stage you're at where you thought that was good and done and ready to query, and take a fresh hard look at it and realize you've got to make changes.

Don your editing hat. Sharpen your delete key. Circle up the wagons and restock your snackages and drinkages. You've got this.

Accept the stage you're at and look at the big picture. Each step forward is one step closer to a published book you can hold in your hands. It's all good (also a cliché). Celebrate each step, and find yourself closer to THE END.

Do you agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments below. Share your insights as a writer. What keeps you going? Is this different when you love your MS? Is this different when you hate it and want to trunk or delete it?


  1. I wouldn't say I ever "hate" my manuscript, but I can easily recognize when I'm standing in the way of it and not letting the story write itself. That's never a good thing, and I know I'll have to fix it.

  2. Sounds like you have a good grasp of the writing process, Kelly. Happy writing, and thank you for commenting!

  3. Oh gosh, I have definitely felt this way! LOL So glad I'm not the only one :).

  4. *phew* so glad I'm not alone! *fistbumps* |m| |m|

  5. Yep, when a scene isn't working I want to chuck the whole thing. Of course, sometimes throwing part of it out is exactly what we need to do. I think "hating" your ms is what keeps us all from sending well intentioned crap into the world. :)

  6. *applause* Well said, Sarah! I agree wholeheartedly!

  7. Writing a book certainly has it's highs and lows. I've been to both ends of that spectrum. Had the WiP police been around, I'd have Writer's Box of Shame on my record, too. Like you said, we need both love and hate to bring out the best in our MS.