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.