For some, editing isn’t the most fun part of writing, but believe me, it is the most necessary part. In yesterday’s video, I talked about my own editing process. I broke editing down into three stages and you can go check that out. (Side note: This video was back when I was experimenting with Bible studies, but after a watch through, I realize that it can easily be applied to novels, so just insert novel whenever I say study and it’ll work just fine. Also, did you see my HAIR??? I totally need to do that again.)
Over here, though, I want to talk about the importance of taking a break from your work before and during the editing process. Let’s clarify this ‘taking a break’ term before we dive in, shall we? Taking a break is the act of figuratively or literally sticking your manuscript in a drawer for at least a week (but something like a month is better). Stepping away for that length of time gives your brain the opportunity to become unfamiliar with your work again. It helps you see what you’ve written with a fresh perspective. This is really important and let’s dive into why.
Reason 1: Familiarity
Raise your hand if you’ve ever become so familiar with your work that you don’t really read it anymore. You just kind of, well, skim it. Is your hand raised? So is mine.
When you and I write, we become very familiar with the ideas we are trying to share and our brain starts to fill in words that should be there, but aren’t. I’ve actually missed important words in sentences because of this, like the MAIN subject word of the sentence. My brain plops it in there even though it’s missing.
I know my readers will pick those up, but the pride in me would rather pick them up myself. It’s still good to become unfamiliar again.
Reason 2: Rest
There are times I sat down to work on a project and come up completely blank no matter how much or how long I stare at the screen. This is a big sign that my brain needs a break from the current project.
My brain needed a rest. Even though I felt like I didn’t have time, I had to take a few days away from editing to let my brain rest and reset. I crocheted. I knitted. I watched documentaries. I did things other than writing. Once I came back to it, I felt refreshed and ready to go. I finished all my editing in a just a few days after my break, after I’d struggled for days to get anything done at all. It’s easy to ignore the signs my body and brain is giving me to rest but friends, it is SO important that we listen.
Reason 3: Renewal
We write because we enjoy it, right? We edit because it’s necessary, right?
What about when it all becomes too much? What about the time we start to dread that appointment with the keyboard or document to edit?
Sometimes, after the kid’s bedtime when I know I have the best time to write, I find myself wandering around my house looking for a snack that I know we don’t have or doing dishes or sweeping my floor or organizing my yarn bin or doing one of a hundred other things that aren’t writing. When I think about trying to write or edit, I get that stressed out feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I LOVE to write. My brain functions in the written word, but even I need time away from my manuscript to feel energized about it again. To reignite that passion for the project I’ve spent hours with and poured out my heart and my soul. To renew my mind and my spirit.
Taking breaks while we write is an essential part of writing. It’s the same idea as taking rest days while training (I’m also a runner). In everything we do, we need to make sure that we maintain a balance instead of losing ourselves into one passion or practice. I am a writer, but I am more than a writer.
We must be intentional. We can’t rush it, and sometimes, walking away is the best thing we can do for our writing.
How about you? Do you take enough breaks while writing? Do you find a different method to be useful?
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