Let It Rest


Vision 75


Let It Rest


Ashe Elton Parker

Copyright © 2014, Ashe Elton Parker, All Rights Reserved


There is a wealth of information and advice floating around if you're looking for guidelines on how to write your book or story. Not so much on editing it, however. Which leaves new writers, and even some experienced writers, clueless.

In fact, I was so clueless when I first started writing, I didn't even know I needed to edit at all. Gradually, as I made realizations about the condition of previously-finished stories, I learned to edit on my own – I began writing in 1988, without access to a writers' group or even other individual writers. I didn't actually start doing the major edits my stories needed until I found Forward Motion for Writers in its founding year, about ten years later. I've gained a lot of experience editing since then.

So now, if someone asked me what one bit of editing advice I had to offer, I would have to say: Let it rest. What's this mean? It means once you're done writing and revising your story, you set it aside and don't do anything with it.

Wait a week. A month if possible. At least, give yourself time to forget about your story. I don't mean this as in completely abandoning it forgetting-about-it, but as in you're no longer looking at it every single day.

Setting it aside and letting it rest means not even opening it for a number of days. I suggested a week. That's the least I ever set my writing aside. Most often, I'll ignore the project for a month or more.


I want a clear head when I look at it next. I need to see it with fresh eyes. If I have more than vague memories of more than a scene or two from it, I leave it alone. What I'm waiting for is my mind to let go of the details so I can see them again.

So I let it rest. A week. Three weeks. A month and a half.

Letting it rest, for me, is the key. Having done this, I can now see the mistakes I've made. Plot holes. Sentences with awkward or convoluted wording. Where I need to break sentences for better flow. Words I've dropped or juxtaposed. Places where the grammar is bad.

But I don't see these right after finishing the project. Usually, not even after a week of letting it rest. It takes longer for me to see these issues, from the most minor misspelling to the gaping plot hole I should have seen long before writing the story.

Each writer will vary; some will have fresh eyes after a week. Others need longer. Some require a year or two. It all depends on the story and the writer.

But let it rest. Set it aside and don't look at it for at least a week. Gain some distance and wait until you've forgotten the details. Work on other projects for a while. Wait until you can see the details with fresh eyes.

Then open the completed project and begin your edits.