Jeanette Stokes

Cut up your manuscript.


I’m working on a book about how I got to be a feminist in religion. It’s a memoir that examines some of the experiences and influences that have shaped me along the way.

I’ve been working on this project for a couple of years and have filled something like 175 pages with words, sentences, and paragraphs, mostly stories from the first thirty years of my life, and I was running out of steam. I couldn’t figure out what to do next.  Send it to an editor? Let a few friends read it? And then I remembered. There’s a method I have used with each of my memoirs that really works.  Just bite the bullet and DO it!

So, I got out my well-worn copy of Blueprint Your Bestseller by Stuart Horwitz and went to work. I had already finished the first step, which was to write everything I could think of. The next step was to print out a copy of the whole thing. My skeptical brain said that would be a waste of perfectly good paper and ink. But a better part of my brain said, “You always feel like what you are writing isn’t worth it. Ignore that feeling and Just Keep Going.” (Those last words are in italics, because they are the title of the little book I published on writing.)

I took my own advice and printed a copy of the whole manuscript and cut the whole thing up into scenes. I plan to be happily lost in this process of arranging, prioritizing, eliminating, and editing the scenes for weeks to come.

Happy 2018. Just keep going! Keep on writing