I recently picked up a novel I had worked on for six years. I can’t count the number of revisions I completed on the manuscript. Yet nothing seemed to help. I got discouraged and put it away.
My life had gotten pretty complicated during that time, so I used it as an excuse. As the weeks went on, I found it easier and easier to let it go. I did not want to pull that manuscript out. It was a mess and a waste of my time. That’s how I felt anyway.
I didn’t stop writing. I picked up a new project. I had an idea for another novel and began to flesh it out. I also continued reading books written by successful novelists and took some more on-line classes. From my perspective, that first book had a great premise (a fact confirmed by one of the agents who rejected my work), but I just couldn’t see what was going on that made it unpublishable.
So as I stated at the opening, I picked up that novel I had placed on the shelf a year ago and started cutting. I was looking at that work through fresh eyes, and enjoyed muddling through the mess and reorganizing my work.
Most of the blogs I read recommended setting a finished piece of work to the side for a few weeks or a few months, based on the premise it would give you a fresher look at your work and allow you to see those areas that were problematic.
Well, that didn’t work for me. I followed the recommendations, but a few months wasn’t long enough. I know everyone is different, and a more experienced writer may only need a few weeks to a few months before they are ready to roll again. So I am in no way saying you should put your work to the side for a year.
What I am saying, is if you have that masterpiece that started your dream sitting on a shelf, or stored in a remote area of your computer, maybe you should consider pulling it out and reassessing. You may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly the issues that caused that manuscript to fail come to light.
So how long do you put a completed manuscript to the side before the final edit?
Just something to think about.