How Long Should You Step Away from a Writing Project?

How long should you step away from a writing project?

It’s common advice to take breaks from projects. You finish a first draft and put it in a drawer for a while before looking at it again. If you are frustrated with something you step away from it for a while.

But what’s a while?? 

As the dictionary says: a period of time. 

Thanks, dictionary. That’s really helpful. So, basically this time period is unknown. Some people say take a few days off. Some say take the weekend. Take a week. Take a month. Maybe take five hundred years and hope Microsoft 10 still exists.

But how long should you step away from a writing project???

I don’t have an answer. I have taken a week to several months off after finishing a first draft. There isn’t really a right or wrong.

I do believe a few days or a week can be too short, and I also believe several months can be too long.

Moderation in all things, I guess. 

But that doesn’t mean you are doomed to fail if you pick up your draft a week later. It DOES mean that you will be a lot closer to your work. Scenes will still be vivid in your head, which may stop you from seeing them honestly.

If you take a few months off, you’ll get a REALLY distanced view, which is great. You also may forget everything you wrote and everything you had been previously been thinking to add or take away from the project.

I usually choose the later, which is bad because I frequently forget what I write. But it HAS enabled me to see the big picture very well. I’m no longer absorbed in the story, so I’m reading it as if I never read it before. For me that is more helpful than having the story still vivid in my mind.

I also juggle multiple projects at a time, and this allows me to work on other projects between other projects, which is why my head wants to explode most of the time and why I have 14 notebooks in use right now.

I think the key is to find what is more important to you: closeness to the story, so you are familiar with it and are still immersed, OR distance, so you can see the story like a reader would.

Maybe switch it up once and while. Try new things, and see what works for what projects.

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Let’s talk! How long do YOU like to step

away from writing projects?

3 responses to “How Long Should You Step Away from a Writing Project?”

  1. With the work I do, sometimes I have no time to step away, and that can lead to a ton of mistakes. However, even stepping away for a night is helpful, especially if I have a deadline. Sometimes I edit after a year. Wow. It’s amazing what a difference a year makes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is great advice! I think I actually need to step back more often. It helps to have another project ready to go though, so that way you can keep busy and still get some perspective on your writing. :)


    1. YES. Having another project to work on is SO important

      Liked by 1 person

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