1. WhenIt'sDark
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    WhenIt'sDark Member

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    taking distance

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by WhenIt'sDark, Apr 16, 2013.

    Hi,

    I just finished my first draft (!) and I heard many people say that it is important to take some distance before starting to edit. I am planning to do so and I was wondering for how long I should get away from my story. A week? A month?

    Help is much appreciated!
     
  2. Eliemme
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    Eliemme Member

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    It depends on how long the work is, so how long it has been since you wrote the first chapter... In any case my professional experience on non-creative writing suggests a week minimum...Also, I suggest to trust your instincts, you will know when you are ready to go through it again.
    If you pick your work up and can't find the concentration to do it, it means that you need some more time... If you can't wait to open your story, then perhaps you don't even need a break...
     
  3. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    I saw a t-shirt that read, "Everything I ever let go of had scratch marks all over it." It depends on your personality. Do you hold on to things? If so, how much time do you usually give it before you move on?

    I am not a very good editor when I'm in creation mode. I don't have enough distance. It takes me a week or two to let go enough to go back and start looking at the work with a cooler eye. I find it helps to move on to another story. It disengages me from previous work.
     
  4. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's a terrific quote.

    With myself and KaTrian, we usually finish a manuscript, then start writing a new story, and once the first draft of that one is finished, we either start another one or return to the first project. By that time we have evolved and developed as writers to the degree that we spot a ton of mistakes as well as things that aren't mistakes or wrong as such, but that we can simply do better now or we have gotten a new idea we want to put in or we dislike some old idea and take it out. That process of improving your work is never-ending, there's no such thing as a finished book. At some point you just have to accept that as long as you keep improving, there will always be something you can enhance (be it by adding, removing, or changing things). Of course things that are not up for interpretation and are just plain wrong, stuff like typos, should be weeded out to the best of your ability asap.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no one gap that fits all... a day can be long enough for some, while others might need a month-long hiatus to come back to it with a clear, neutral-as-possible perspective...
     
  6. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Agreed. You will have to figure out the magic number for yourself. Me, I am good after a couple days.
     
  7. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    The longer you wait, the clearer your mind will be to edit. Of course, the longer you wait, the longer it takes to finish the project, so it's always balance.

    You can also consider starting another project for a week or longer. It can be really refreshing to try out new characters and setting. If you were writing a book, try out a short story, and vice versa.
     
  8. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    To be a good editor, you have to be ruthless and be willing to cut away those sentences that you love so dearly but which do nothing for the story. I'd say you need to wait long enough so that you are less emotionally involved with the book than when you wrote it. Composing a first draft can be a love/hate affair and is often very emotionally draining. When you feel confident that you've achieved some distance from whatever drove you to write your story, then you will likely have the greatest success with your editing.
     
  9. TechnoGoth
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    TechnoGoth Member

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    Leave it long enough that you're not burnt out on the piece. Working something fresh and do something else. I find that you can spend so long working on something it feels tired and stale, and you just don't wont to look at again. That's when you need a break.

    But finishing a first draft is great accomplishment and so you need to reward yourself and let it all settle. Even if its only a 5000 word short story give yourself a day or two.
     

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