The Joy (and Benefits) of Setting Your Manuscript Aside for a While

Have you ever written a large manuscript before?  Novel, cookbook, master’s thesis?

Illuminated masterpiece?

Did you set it aside for a while before starting your major revisions?

Do.

It’s the end of what I’ve come to think of as “beta-reading month,” and edited copies of my manuscript are trickling back in (still a few to go — if you’re reading this you know who you are!).  Reading them has been helpful, certainly, but also oddly a treat.

It’s been nearly a month since I visited this story.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve forgotten what happens in it (though my memory can be a little sieve-like), but particular images or turns of phrase are jumping out as surprises, and in many cases as surprisingly good, which is a joy.

There are also bad things which I had not really noticed before.  These are less of a joy to find but also certainly something that I’m able to see more clearly for my time off (flagged comments from beta readers help too, of course).

Back at the start of December, when I fired this off to my various helpful friends and relatives, I was still coasting on a wave of frenzied writing.  Setting it aside for a whole month seemed impossible.  I figured at the very least I would have to start immediately on a sequel, just to keep from going insane.

Working retail during the Christmas rush helped, mind you.

But the month off has turned out to be one of the best things I ever did for my writing brain.  I’ll be headed into the New Year ready and exited to finish revisions — and yes, that means you’ll be seeing posts soon about how to actually use beta-reader comments, the good ones and the bad.

Excited?

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