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!


11 comments:

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. : )

S

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...

WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER!!

http://lesserkey.blogspot.com/2009/08/gift-that-keeps-on-giving.html

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.