Why you need time between writing and revising

There's one piece of writing advice I give that people really, REALLY don't like.

Nope. It's not take a dump. That one just grosses people out.

The advice that no one ever wants to hear is this:


Let it sit.


What this really means—and why most people hate hearing it—is you need to give yourself enough time between the writing stage and the editing stage.

Which means you have to start early.

Which means you have to fight the urge to procrastinate.

Why? Because you want to forget what you wrote. You want to turn yourself into a beginner, so that when you read what you wrote you're seeing it with fresh eyes.

It'll help you be less attached to your writing. It'll make you a much better editor. It'll help you be ruthless.

The more time you take between the writing stage and the editing stage, the easier it is to make the familiar strange.

Look: I get it. Nobody likes starting early. Starting early is for chumps. Starting early means you fall prey to Parkinson's Law: work expands to fill the time you give it. In other words, if you give yourself a month to write, it'll take a month. But if you give yourself two weeks, it'll take two weeks.

Yeah, fine. It's true. But if you add just a teensy bit of discipline to that month, you're still only doing two weeks' worth of work. You're writing for a while, and then you're taking a break.

Try it: let your next piece of writing sit for a while. Even if it's only a couple of days. What happens when you come back to it?

Do you leave time to let it sit? Let me know in the comments!