When I began my writing career many years ago, the most difficult part of the writing process was the end. I don’t mean finishing the article, I mean letting it “cool” before editing and polishing it for publication.
Admittedly, I simply didn’t have the patience for the all-important cooling process. So, instead of letting my article cool for a week or two while I attacked another project, I revised it a day or two later and pushed it out for publication.
Don’t misunderstand me, I knew that the cooling process provides a “writer’s pause” that allows us to restore our perspective and edit more objectively, but I couldn’t wait. I needed to fill the pipeline with articles so if one was rejected I could place my hope in the others that were still “out there.”
Never mind that I was shooting myself in the foot and my push for publication philosophy was contributing to my undoing. Yes, I would edit and polish my work, but I failed to rely on the resource of time.
Why Let Your Copy Cool?
The cooling period creates a pause that allows you to evaluate your work with an editor’s eye instead of a writer’s hope.
Think of a cooling period as part of your quality control system for your articles, poems or novels. Only you can decide how long your cooling process should be but here are three benefits of letting your copy cool.
1) Errors are magnified. Are you a good proofreader? So am I. Or so I thought. Every time I thought I caught all my typos I found more after the cooling period. I believe the cooling period has saved my reputation. Let it save yours.
2) You can set your mind in editor’s mode. Obviously, there comes a time in the writing process when you must transition from writer to editor. When you let your copy cool, you move on to other work. When you return to the original work, you can evaluate it with an open mind. Plus, when you’re in editor mode, you can cut ruthlessly, polish energetically and submit for publication confidently because you won’t favor your work as the writer, you’ll edit and refine it for the reader.
3) You can be confident that you said what you intended to say. Isn’t this the most important element of any work? Did you accomplish what you originally set out to do? Is your message clear? Did you say what you intended to say—in the way you intended to say it? The cooling period is your last opportunity to make it your own.
Yes, writing is a process and part of that process, perhaps the hardest part, is pausing after you write the piece and let it cool. But when you do, you will be glad you did—and so will your readers.
The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement.
Blog entries are posted on Thursday.
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