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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Under The Bed

That's where every manuscript belongs, at least for a while. My Tuesday Tip for today is this: when you finish a manuscript, stick it under the bed, in the closet, in the attic, or in the basement. Wherever you choose (even if it's in the dark corners of your hard drive), stick it somewhere. It needs to sit for a bit. Until you allow it to do that, you won't be able to see its faults or its strengths. When you come back to it, it will be like seeing that relative you haven't seen in a really long time. He's aged, or she's lost weight, or he's grown, etc. Time and distance make you notice these things. So, while your manuscript is sitting, move on to a new project. Be sure you write every day. How else will you get better? If you need motivation to write every day, go visit my blog friend, Patti Nielson. She's encouraging you to keep track of how much time you spend actually writing every day. I have to admit, I'm not off to a very good start. Yesterday, I spent nill, nada, the big fat zero, absolutely no time writing. How sad is that? Very sad, if you ask me. Today will be better, though! Okay, do you have any old manuscripts hiding under your bed? If so, have you taken a look at them lately? If so, I bet they look a little different than they did before.

29 comments:

storyqueen said...

I always do this...but then I get terrified to get them out from under the bed again! I usually imagine that they are far worse than they actually are.

shelley

Amy Tate said...

I love your analogy of a manuscript and a long lost relative! Susan, you're awesome - I almost spilled my coffee all over my keyboard, girl!

Faith said...

I have several manuscripts hiding under the bed... my problem is that I didn't take them out soon enough and now they're piling up. ACK!

Melanie's Randomness said...

I had a story that I literally dusted the cobwebs off of it so I could re-read it. It had a few flaws in grammar but I fixed it all up & was able to give it to my writer's group for them to read. I remember handing that in to a class & getting an A. Obviously my teacher didn't read it. lol. =P

Carolyn V. said...

I do have a few of those manuscripts hidden. I think it always helps when I re-read them after a while. I can see all the things that need to be fixed. =)

Stephanie Faris said...

I love setting a ms. aside and coming back to it, but now that I have an agent that isn't so easy. She'll ask, "What do you have?" and I always end up telling her about what I've just finished, at which point she asks to see it...

Patti said...

I didn't use to believe that this worked, but have since converted to the belief that distance is the best thing to do after finishing a draft.

Hope your writing goes better today.

Nancy said...

That is a great idea. Love your descriptions of visiting old friends. That's exactly it.
I went a whole week without writing and now I feel like writing up the whole trip. Feast or fammine.

Catherine Denton said...

YES! I did this just today and it was much better than I remembered. I guess time DOES make things sweeter. :)

Tamika: said...

I have one old manuscript buried under boxes in my closet. I made it about 15,000 words in before dumping the whole sad project.

Maybe one day...

paulgreci said...

I have a couple aging on the hard-drive:-)

Diane said...

Will check out Patti's site. Does blogginh count as writing.....? I know, I know, nope. :O)

Cassandra Frear said...

So interesting that I would come by your blog now, at this time. I do have a manuscript which was put aside because of other demands. Now I have returned to it and seen it with fresh eyes. And it has made a big difference.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

This is a bit of advice that I really need to listen to. I love finishing stories and going right into the editing because I want to stick with it. I want to polish my project and complete it as best as I can. But in doing that, I almost always miss things I might not have missed if I took some time away. Good advice!

jbchicoine said...

I have a couple in hiding, and I have to admit, they've been whispering at me lately...I think that if they let me, I might be able to help them loose a little weight!

Suzanne Casamento said...

There are old manuscripts everywhere. I went through my first a while ago and was horrified at how bad it was. Especially because at the time I was convinced it was genius!

strugglingwriter said...

"It needs to sit for a bit. Until you allow it to do that, you won't be able to see its faults or its strengths."

Quite true. Don't let it sit too long, though.

Karen Peterson said...

I took a significant break from my manuscript. Longer than I intended. And it really was for the best. Now, while I'm doing rewrites, I see so many new avenues and fun new ways to take the story.

It's definitely important to get some distance from your manuscript.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Author Ally Carter says the same thing. After you finish it. Let it sit for a month. (I usually do two weeks, but that's because I get antsy. LOL)
But it is amazing how it looks.

K. M. Walton said...

So so so so so important to do!!!!! It is in the time away that we are able to come at it with the fresh eyes it desperately needs!!!

Leah Rubin said...

So I'm struggling now with revisions on two pieces I'm submitting to an anthology... Deadline the 30th. Yes, of September. I can't get the perspective I need, and I'm feeling very uncertain about them both. Your advice is solid, as always...

Robyn Campbell said...

Great advice. I have spent time away from a MS and came back to realize it wasn't so bad after all. Of course there are some that MUST stay where they are. FOREVER hidden away. :)

Distance is key. Excellent post.

Sarah Simas said...

LOL With the dust bunnies that dwell in my casa-not-so-grand, anything I "put away" would remain permanently so! Gotta love country life. ;)

I had to take a week or off due to kids' schedules and I guess the old addage is right: Absence does make the heart grow fonder. :)

Elizabeth McKenzie said...

I love your website. The pictures of shoes is great.

Thanks for the comments on my blog. Writers are the most helpful people I know.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

I've still got the two manuscripts on ice...

Bethany Mattingly said...

I've got a few manuscripts under the bed, but I think they might be staying there, more like an extend-a-stay-hotel...hmmm :)

Dawn Simon said...

Great advice. I agree: time gives us fresh eyes.

Dominique said...

I know what you mean. When I finished the thief book, I let it sit for a while. Couldn't stand to see it, actually. When I came back to it, I realized the ending, which I'd thought was slightly flawed, had massive issues. I didn't know how to fix them, so I put it back down. A fortnight later, it came to me, and I rewrote the whole ending. If I hadn't taken time to let it sit, I'd have plunged into line editing material that would still feel wrong, because I'd still be using the wrong ending.

Letting it sit is important.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Time away always changes my perspective on stories. Unfortunately, some are better off staying under the bed :)