We’ve all heard this advice: put your manuscript in a drawer for at least a month before you revise/edit it. Generally, I do this as a matter of course (and because life often gets in the way). But lately I have been lamenting an unscheduled break in my revision plans.
My sci-fi YA Vertias is inching toward being finished. I wanted one more major sweep for voice and plot tightening, and then I think it will be ready for professional editing eyes to look at it. So, I printed it out—all 100,000 words of it—punched some holes and stuck it in a three-ring binder (2 three-ring binders, actually). Ready to go!
Not so fast! I did a few chapters of it, and then for some reason (or many reasons), it languished. From September 30, 2016 to March 8, 2017, it sat on my table waiting for me to return. That’s 160 days. 5.3 months.
Way too long.
My frustration built and built as the binders gathered dust on my end table, and they accused me of slacking every time I glanced in their direction. Finally, I got back to it.
Since March 8, I have made good progress. I finished polishing the shortest of the 3 POV lines in my novel and started the second.
For all that the length of the break frustrated me, there have been some good things out of it. Not only do I see mistakes more readily and clearly (the rationale for taking a break in the first place), but I can see what I did WELL with greater clarity. In a pleasant surprise, my writing is better than I remembered it.
Also, I hear the three POV characters voices more clearly in my head. I see where a sentence doesn’t fit the voice and needs to be tweaked. I have a better handle on their worldviews and can use the voice to crystallize that. In another surprise, the three voices are more differentiated than expected, allaying my fears of them all sounding like me.
So while I hadn’t planned on such a long break, it had some up sides to it. How long do you usually wait before coming back to revise a manuscript?