Thursday, August 13, 2009

How Long is Too Long?

Taking some time apart.

On a break.

Seeing other manuscripts.

We talk about how sometimes manuscripts need time to "cure," and taking time apart does us good as writers, but is there a point where "time apart" becomes abandonment?

My husband asked this question last night: How long is too long? He knows what I do (leave it alone for a week or so then go back), but asked what other writers do. My response: "Uhhhh... I have no idea?" I think he's secretly asking this so he can keep me toeing the line with my editing. So sneaky!

However, today to sate both my husband's curiosity and my own: YOU TELL ME :)!

How long do you let your manuscripts sit/age like a fine wine/cure/percolate, and when does it become pure, unadulterated procrastination?

How do you know the difference when it happens?

Is it a horrible, horrible trap?? (Okay, probably not, but inquiring minds want to know!)

I'd love to hear your thoughts!


B.J. Anderson said...

It depends on the manuscript. I've let some go for months and months. But lately, I can only let it go for a few days before I'm wanting to get back to it.

Yunaleska said...

Very true - it does depend! The wip I'll be editing in a week has been curing for a year. Termion - well, that's cured since Jan/Feb. i try and leave at least a month :)

Scott said...

Write rough draft. Set aside for 2 weeks. Begin first draft phase. Finish first draft phase. Set aside for 2 - 3 weeks. Begin second draft phase . . .

I normally try and give myself 2 weeks at the minimum. I read somewhere that writers need to create distance between themselves and their manuscripts during the different phases of the editing process. I guess we know our work so well, that, without a break, we're not really looking at the manuscript with fresh eyes/mind.

I also think the 'time away' is different for every writer. So, you have to come up with what works best for you. : )


TereLiz said...

I think at least a month away from one another is good for both of you, lol. I never see the problems my second draft has until I've left it alone for a while.

Recently, I've been looking over something I abandoned because it is much too long, and almost impossible to cut in length because of the rigid format of POV switching I stuck to in writing it.

Maybe it'll never get published, but I like remembering what made me passionate about the story when I look it over, especially since I'm sort of blocked on my current WiP, and taking another ride on the query-go-round. My old work is soothing sometimes.

I say as long as you're working on something, and truly honing your craft, you're not procrastinating.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Great question - especially because I think I have crossed the line from letting myself think things through to total and complete 'I am sick of revising' procrastination. I really do need to keep revising... tomorrow maybe.

Abby said...

Until recently, the most time I've been able to spend away from my ms is two weeks. Guess I just needed another project to distract me.

Now, it's been almost two months and I think I'm ready to jump back on it for one more revision. I don't really have a set amount of time, but I think for the next project I will definitely force myself to take at least a month away from it when the first draft is finished.

Shelli said...

until you feel it. and even then - it will change. if you feel you have done all you can do - send it out, take a chance, see if you get any feedback.

KM said...

Whenever I get fed up with my manuscript, I swear I'm not going to look at it for at least a month. But whenever I get on my computer to check my email or something, I feel a little tug to open up the writing folder and just take a look. I always end up going back to it in a few days - it's like an ex-boyfriend or something; I just can't stay away. lol!

Lisa and Laura said...

We're currently taking a little break from our MS. Just so we can read it with fresh eyes. I usually like to read at least one book between rounds of revisions, like a literary cleansing of the palette.

TereLiz said...


Rebecca Knight said...

THANKS, TERE! :D You are so sweet!

Also, thank you everyone for responding with how you work :). This is fascinating to gather all the group wisdom and see what the thoughts are.