Tuesday Tips – Let it Go Stale

One thing some beginning writers often struggle with is rushing work out the door. You finish a story or article and send it out into the world with minimal edits.

The reasons for this can be many. Perhaps the writer is trying to pump up the race score. (See Dean Wesley Smith’s blog here: scroll down to trick #2.)

Maybe the writer just received a personalized rejection from a major market and wants to get something on that editor’s desk as quickly as possible.

Maybe the writer has another story in mind and wants to wrap up the current one to move on.

Whatever the reason, all too often these early drafts are sent out too soon, and could use another round or two of edits and corrections. Problem is, many new writers don’t have a circle of people who can do critique, proofreading, or even just a beta read. How does one get around that?

The simple answer is to put the project into a drawer and pull it out later. Doing this makes the text seem more distant, like somebody else wrote it. The longer the wait, the more objective you can be with your own work.

How long is long enough? That is different for every individual. Two weeks is often enough for me. Fiction writer Ian Creasey often waits six months before doing an edit pass. You just have to experiment until you find the sweet spot of long enough to distance yourself from the work and short enough to be efficient.

Of course, deadlines don’t always make this possible, but it’s good practice, especially if you are prone to mistakes that you miss when reading warm copy.

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