Breathe. Write. Breathe. - 18 Energizing practices to spark your writing and free your voice by Lisa Tener

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Breathe. Write. Breathe.

18 Energizing Practices to Spark Your Writing & Free Your Voice

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What To Do With a Messy Manuscript (Revision)

When Your Writing is a Mess and Deadlines Loom…

I’m in the final throes of writing and editing my next book. My publisher needs my final manuscript revisions within a week. I feel good about the book but my Introduction and first two chapters are a mess.

Pancicked author
In the throes of confusion!

I’ve cut a bunch of extraneous and unsuccessful excerpts but now I’m even more confused!

Late in the evening, I consult my 17-year-old, Luke, for advice. He sits with me at the kitchen table and helps me let go of what I have written so that I can focus on what might engage my readers. I get the 30,000-foot-high view from the mountaintop—crucial and time-saving.

This helps but I’m still not sure how to convey my ideas. How do I draw readers in with simplicity?

Sleep on It, Darlin’

manuscript revision
28 pages of confusion!

Around midnight, my husband pops in to say he’s going to bed. When I share my distress, he advises me to print out the Introduction and two troublesome chapters, read them once and go to bed. “In the morning, you’ll know what to do.”

I know I should listen to him but I’m running on adrenaline and chocolate, so I edit for another hour, then print the pages, read them and go to bed.

more manuscript revision
My new introduction!

It works! I wake up with ideas and soon I’m off and running, or my pen’s off and running. I write a new introduction. It’s streamlined. I suspect it’s inspiring. My editors will confirm or deny my hunch soon enough.

Honestly, yesterday, I wondered whether I could pull it off. Now, I feel hopeful, inspired, even.

The Restorative Power of Sleep

It can be tempting to forfeit sleep and work all night, but you and I both know where that leads the next day. I feel grateful to Tom for the sleep intervention! I’d be a mess today if I stayed up any later, and without his urging, I know I would have persisted.

Lisa Tener Book Coach and Editor

The subconscious works on things while we sleep, particularly solving problems and finding creative solutions. Skimp on the sleep and you forfeit this superpower.

So, next time you feel stuck:

  1. Feed your subconscious (or your creative muse) with the writing at hand.
  2. Set a clear intention or invitation for your muse.
  3. Go to sleep! (A cup of linden tea helps, in my experience.)
  4. Wake up, grab your pen and journal (AKA take dictation). (Yes, you can do this step on a device, but I find writing by hand more effective, particularly when seeking creative inspiration).

An update, a couple days after writing this post: My other secret is working with two amazing editors (yes, I did say two!). While one editing goddess (and I am not exaggerating here) is working on the final round of revisions for the entire book, the other editing genius (again, not hyperbole) is helping me fine tune these gnarly chapters. Chapter 1 is tranformed and Chapter 2 is in the works

Let me know how it goes! And please share your insights and tips in a comment below.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Frank Borrelli says

    I Have a 3rd book at Amazon to be published it seems as if months have past I had 2 previous books done in a cpl. of weeks .but now at age 92 I am worried to not be able to see this to completion…They were able to sell other issues from Computer or sales is this something that you also do ..Place books for sale?

    • Lisa Tener says

      I’m sorry but I’m confused by your question. What service are you looking for? Is your book on your Amazon KDP account but not up for sale on Amazon? If so, maybe they have a concern about violating one of their many rules? If that’s the case, email me if you are looking for someone to troubleshoot an I think I have someone you can hire to help. It’s not in my wheelhouse though.

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