Letting Your Manuscript Rest

Letting Your Manuscript Rest

You’ve all heard it before, the old adage that says writing is rewriting. It keeps playing over and over in my head as I trudge through another polish of Blades of Grass. But, to be honest, I'm struggling a little this week.

As my last post discussed, I’m now rewriting the manuscript based on my agent’s feedback, but my writing sessions the past few days have consisted of staring at the screen in frustration. I know I should just let the manuscript – and myself – rest a while. Gain some perspective, approach it with fresh eyes, all that jazz. But for how long? This brings me to my latest Question for Writers:

How long do you let a manuscript rest before beginning a rewrite?

You’ll probably tell me that there’s no hard timeline for stepping away from your manuscript – no one way to do it right. In his article, aptly titled Rewriting is Writing, screenwriter Ray Morton says this:

The single most important tool you will need to do a successful rewrite is perspective—the ability to see your work for what it is, rather than what you hoped it would be. Perspective is impossible to attain when you are caught up in the frenzy of the creative process. So, once you have finished your initial pass, walk away from it for a week or two, or five. This break will ensure that when you return to your work, you will be able to view it with fresh, objective eyes.

There’s something to be said for walking away long enough to approach the project again with a renewed sense of energy. But there’s also something to be said for finishing a damn book so you and your agent will stand a chance of earning some money! So five weeks? Not a chance. My personal tendency is to step away for a week at most – enough time so that the story stays with me, but long enough that I gain a little fresh perspective on it.

What about the rest of you?

How long do you let a manuscript rest before beginning a rewrite?


One thought on “Letting Your Manuscript Rest

  1. I should probably clarify that I'm well past the first draft at this stage of the rewrite game, which is why I allow myself less time for marination. I do typically take a longer break between first draft and first rewrite. When I wrote the first draft of Blades of Grass last fall, I set it aside for a couple months before I was able to successfully pick it back up.

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