30 Days of Writing Tips – Day 5 – Let It Sit

in 30 Days of Writing Tips

let it restWant the real truth this morning? I totally forgot I’d promised to do 30 days of writing tips. I never intended to write them over the weekend, but I got caught up in another idea this morning.

Thanks goodness for readers. Shelly Hazard said this in comments:

Done writing? Now let it sit!

When you first complete a writing project, don’t rush to send it off. Now that it’s finished, let it sit for awhile. Wait an hour, a day, a week, however long it takes to get the finished piece off of your mind. Then take it out and read it again. With a little time and distance, you regain some of your objectivity and can find flaws or errors that you’d otherwise have missed.

Shelly’s right on of course. Usually it’s only on a daily newspaper that deadlines come so fast we don’t have a chance to let a piece rest for at least an hour or two. And as she implies, longer is better.

That rest gives your mind a chance to see errors and your ear to hear them if you read it out loud.


I love her suggestion that we let the writing rest “…however long it takes to get the finished piece off of your mind.” That’s a great description.

Thanks Shelley.

Have you got a tip? Post it in comments please.

39 Days of Writing Tips Archive

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

BCH May 3, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I agree. Letting things sit is a great policy. Unfortunately, I frequently don’t have that luxury as I can have some fast turnaround times. However, I always try to give things at least a couple hours. I agree with reading things out loud as well. I’ve also heard that reading things backwards can help. I’ve never tried that, though.

I’m experimenting with Dragon Naturally Speaking software to help with writing–combines the writing and reading out loud into one step. While that can help eliminate some problems with typos, I’ve found that I have to deal with new editing issues.

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annew May 4, 2011 at 9:37 am

BCH, yes even a couple of hours helps… and when the deadline is super tight reading it out loud is almost as good as letting it sit.

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Priya Viswanathan May 3, 2011 at 2:39 am

I sometimes have to wait a couple of days to get a good article/blog idea. I’ve seen this “waiting” time is good too, as it eventually helps me write decent stuff when I finally sit at my laptop. Feeling pressured or hurried does not help with writing – one just needs to be chilled out once in a while, I guess! :)
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annew May 3, 2011 at 10:36 am

I call that wait time ‘yeasting.’

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Jamie Beckett May 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I must admit I don’t always have the luxury of a couple days to let a piece sit. Truthfully, I often don’t have more than an hour to let it sit. But whether I wait fifteen minutes of fifteen days, the most important rule for me is to go back and read the piece critically – at least twice.

It won’t make it through the first pass without at least a couple edits, no matter how flawless it felt when I was writing it. By the second pass through I usually have something that’s worthy of the publication it’s intended for. Perhaps more important, I know I’ve got it to a point that the editor is unlikely to write me back asking for additional edits.

Acceptance, that’s what I’m looking for. Does that make me needy?

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annew May 3, 2011 at 10:41 am

Wanting acceptance doesn’t necessarily make you needy ;) Acceptance has other meanings too ;) And yes, that flawless feeling when writing – ah were it only true.

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