Avi WordCraft blog

Stepping back

One of the advantages of working on more than one project is when you get tired (“I just can’t look on this again”) of book 1, you can go to book 2, just for a change of pace and text. 

This is what I recently did: put aside the main project and turned to something not quite as important. I was, I thought, kidding myself. That second project was done. I was just faking a day’s work. 

But when I turned to that other book—after a two-month interval—I realized something: There was quite a lot to be done. What had happened? 

Stepping back

It was something I have written about before. One of the best things you can do when writing is—nothing. 

It is quite different from “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” (The Roman poet Sextus is credited with the earliest version of the phrase.)  It’s more like, “Absence makes the eyes grow sharper.” 

Sometimes your full engagement with what you write doesn’t allow you to see (or experience) what you’ve done.  

Bluntly, that’s why we need editors.

Failing that, stepping away allows you (oh, the irony) to step closer. 

When I come back to that text after some time, I picked up lots of things. Punctuation for starters. Word repetitions. Plot repetitions. Jumps. Gaps. Poor quality of work. 

In short, everything. 

[It’s one of the reasons I don’t like to read my published work. I always find something I could have done better.] 

This is to say a gap in time allows you to become less the writer of your work and more a reader of your work. 

As I’ve said a million times: Writers don’t write writing. They write reading. 

Is it hard to step away from your work for a period of time? Yes. What are your options? Take a real vacation. Find something that needs fixing in your home. Start another project. Or do something that you would really like to do: Read your favorite writer. They’ve already done the work. And they’ll give you a refresher lesson in good writing. A good writer always can use good reading. 

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