Editing can be hard. Editing can be even harder when you are editing your own work instead of someone else’s writing. I’ve learned something that really helps me when it comes to polishing my own writing. The trick is taking a break from your manuscript. Put it away for a few weeks or even months depending on how long of a break you want. I usually do this after fixing up as much as I can. Then after the break I come back and fix even more. Sometimes I start a new manuscript while I take a break.
Why does the break help? It helps you come back with fresher eyes to spot issues you didn’t see before. Sometimes I’m loathe to make changes when I start editing soon after finishing writing, but after the break I’m way more willing to make changes. There’s been times when I’ve gone over chapters over and over again and think they are as good as they can be. But when I come back after a break, I see issues and weaknesses I missed.
As an editor I find it easier to look at my manuscript with an editor’s perspective after taking a break to distance myself. I find it easier to identify spots I’m not happy with and tweak them to meet the idea I have in my head for my story.
Once I finish that last round of edits after my break, it’s time for others to look at it and guide me more. A fresh set of eyes is super important because they will spot even more issues you didn’t notice. Sometimes things aren’t as clear to readers as the author along with so many other issues that make critique partners and editors important to have.
I remember sitting in English class in seventh grade and my teacher mentioning some bestselling author saying he puts his manuscript in a shoe box under his bed and lets it sit for a year before revisiting it for final edits. I would never have the patience to let a story sit for a whole year, but hearing about it gave me the idea to start employing breaks in my editing. After seeing how much I spot when I come back to my story, I don’t think I’ll ever stop using this tactic.