Blood to Ink: The Benefits of "Resting" Before Editing

For the past few weeks I’ve been submerged in my own major edit of Blood Moon before I begin edits with my Jolly Fish editor. I didn’t look at this manuscript during the submission process. Once it went out to publishers, I was done with it. Was that smart? I don’t know. I didn’t want to put anymore work into it until I had a good reason. I moved on and wrote a whole new book.

So when I finally pulled the manuscript out, nearly a year after my last edit, I was looking at it with fresh eyes and a lot more writing experience. The benefits for the book have been endless. I had heard rumors about the value of putting a piece away for a month or more before editing, but didn’t believe it and, honestly, never had the patience to do it.

The reasons why “resting” is awesome:

1. Fresh eyes 
Sometimes as writers we are too close to the project and can’t grasp the whole picture. Stepping away for a time, clearing our minds of all the stuff that gets jammed in there during the writing process, helps make things clear. Now that I’m not drowning in the details, the important things stand out understand my own book so much better now than I did when I was writing it.

2. Plot problems cleaned up and fixed
I’ve been amazed (and slightly embarrassed) at how many little plot problems and details I have found that needed to be cleaned up. Things I missed or things I just couldn’t seem to get right before – all fixed.

3. Characters stronger
Stepping back from my characters has helped me truly understand them. I can see deeper into their minds and hearts. I know better what they should say, do, how they should act and who they really need to be. 

4. Cleaner language, better writing
I’m a much better writer now. Every day, every project makes me better. So with a little distance I’ve been able to clean up the writing and improve the flow of my words. I caught typos I failed to catch in the several previous edits, adjusted metaphors that didn’t quite make sense and cut a bunch of fluff.

5. Easier to make the big, hard decisions
With a little time it is easier to make the big decisions. When we are close to the writing and characters it can be hard to cut things, delete things, erase things. I found stuff I couldn’t bare to chop before that I easily removed now, knowing it was the right thing to do for the story.

The lesson: Putting a manuscript away for some time, letting it “rest,” makes for some seriously good editing.

Writers – do you let your work rest? Do you think it helps?


8 thoughts on “Blood to Ink: The Benefits of "Resting" Before Editing

  1. Great post, Teri! You are so right (write?) about all of this. I always let my writing rest between first draft and revision. Granted, it's generally not for a year, but for a few weeks, at least. Sometimes as long as a few months. It definitely helps!

  2. That is exactly what I've discovered. I put mine away for a year while working on a new story. (I'd queried it before and got a few nibbles, but no bites) So when I finished the other one, I thought I'd revisit this and see if I could freshen it up and send it out again. I can't believe how unready it was. Now I see it through new eyes and can make the necessary changes. I think I'll let my other projects rest for awhile and write new ones then come back to the finished ones and review them with fresh eyes each time.

  3. I think a period of time is required to let the passions cool. As to the length of that period, I can't really say yet. My first completed novel has been sitting virtually untouched for about two months now while beta readers and a content editor gave it a good once over. I anticipate another few weeks before I start dissecting the feedback and giving the story a clean read while wearing my feedback-colored glasses.

  4. Amen, amen, amen. For me, a resting period literally makes all the difference. My writing goes from OK to good (or good to great, whatever the case may be) by giving it a rest & then revisiting it.

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