Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just finished writing a short story. Do you: A) Give it a rest, or B) Dive in and revise?

This was an interesting discussion thread on a forum, which got me thinking.

When I wrap up a short story, I like to take a short break from it. At least one to two days, giving me a chance to sleep on it and letting my neurons replenish. Inevitably, the next time I read it, I find issues. Often those issues crop up on passages or dialogs that I previously felt were toasted to golden brown perfection.

Why is that?

Why does your prose smell sweet in your current editing session only to have it emit a foul odor 2 days hence?

Even more interesting, since you know you're going to view your prose more critically in 2 days and uncover where improvements are needed, why can't you skip the 2 day cooling off period and ferret out those sore spots immediately?

I can certainly chalk it up to: creative juices ran low and must be restocked. Got that. 

Funny thing is, I haven't found a way to significantly increase the capacity of my creative juice battery or reliably shorten its recharge cycle. For editing and revising a just completed story, I'm at my best with a 24 - 48 hour break from it. Sure, I can be somewhat effective making edits sooner, just not AS effective.

I think I've bumped up against some kind of universal constant, at least for my writer brain.  

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