Manuscript Madness: Going without a Manuscript

Once again, I highly recommend that new preachers write full manuscripts. There are plenty of benefits for doing so and I don’t want you to miss out on any of them. At a certain point in time, however, you might decide to experiment without one. Going manuscript-less does have its own advantages. Here are two of them:

(1) It will teach you to think on your feet.

If there’s one huge benefit of going manuscript-less, it would be its ability to train you to become quick-minded. Foregoing a manuscript forces you to think on your feet and be more spontaneous. You will learn to expound further on the spot instead of being so tied to what you have written down. Being able to think on your feet is a great asset even off the stage. People ask questions all the time and having a quick mind will help you get through those inquiries better.

Do note that thinking on your feet doesn’t mean you will prepare less than your manuscript writing counterparts. As the next point will show, you still need to prepare well. You simply prepare in different ways.

(2) It will enable you to cope in other ways.

If you don’t write full manuscripts, you will need to replace it with something else. You probably can’t go on stage with the content you’ve gathered and the outline you’ve built and somehow come across as coherent to your audience. Since you won’t be writing a manuscript, you will need to prepare by different means. Going manuscript-less will force you to adapt to a new method.

In the four years that I’ve gone without a full manuscript, I developed my own method of coping. The method included writing partial manuscripts for teaching points, using simple words as a trigger for illustrations, and lots of practice time. As I rehearsed a sermon over and over again, I would constantly make adjustments to say things better or make the message more coherent. Although this method allowed me to forego writing full manuscripts, I had to replace it with something else—namely, more practice time. Going without a manuscript will force you to think outside the box and experiment with other methods.

A word of caution. If you plan on going manuscript-less, I recommend that you do so cautiously. For instance, you might begin by writing full manuscripts except for the illustrations. During the illustrations, give yourself space to think on the spot and tell a story spontaneously. This will allow you to partially experience what it feels like to have no manuscript without having to risk it all. You can then gradually forego larger portions of the manuscript when you become more comfortable.

Join the discussion: Would you ever recommend going without a manuscript?

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Next Article: Manuscript Madness: Tips for Manuscript Writing | Series: Manuscript Madness


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