Hello, Distance…How Far is Far Enough?

So I’m deep in revisions that have already taken longer (many times) than I hoped…and I’ve been thinking about distance. When I started this novel 10 (!) years ago, it looked dramatically different. Different characters, different scenes, the whole she-bang has changed over the years. I used to be able to write a scene, put it away, pull it out and revise it. But now I’m working with time constraints…and I need some distance.

Revising at this pace feels like standing close to a canvas and painting. Are these blobs of paint making a picture or a mess? Am I improving the novel or just making it different? I’m hoping to barrel through the last few new scenes, anchor them in the rest of the text for continuity, and take just a few days off. The big question…will that be enough time to buy me “distance?” How much time does it take?

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4 Responses to Hello, Distance…How Far is Far Enough?

  1. I usually do good with a week. During that time, I read and watch things that are very unlike my work in progress, so that by the time I read it again, it looks new. If you pull it out after a week and you still can’t see the big picture, give it a little more time.

    • if revising is making my stomach queasy, is it time for a break? I think you’re right about it taking a week to rest (and maybe I’ll finally get to start reading “The Passage” then!)

  2. For a novel, a week or so usually is enough time for me to distance myself from what I’ve written so I can recognize what doesn’t work. If I wait too much longer than that, I lose momentum or start thinking of major changes–and I start doing rewrites instead of revisions. If I wait a month or so, as I’ve heard some people recommend, I can’t remember what the story is about and spend my time re-reading my manuscript instead of writing. 😦

    Congratulations on getting an agent!

  3. Carol, I think you’re right about it taking a week…and I can’t wait to finish this round of revisions and take that week! I was lucky enough to have a week away (w/my husband, w/o my kids) near the beginning of this revision, so I was able to have extended periods of peace of quiet to draw up a plan. Now that I’m back in my “real life” with a 3 and 6 year old, it’s so hard to think about the novel as a whole. Thanks for the good wishes!

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