Rushing Work Pause and refresh
By Helen Dunn Frame
Sunday afternoons, after weeks filled to the ultimate moment, used to be very boring for me as a young girl. Now I wish I could recall those hours that seemed to drag on forever for reviewing whatever I'm writing after letting it lie fallow for a while. Unlike unused cell minutes, that time disappeared forever.
Wasn't it Coca-Cola® that promoted "The Pause that Refreshes"? Not taking the slogan to heart, writers seem to have a penchant for daring to challenge a deadline by procrastinating and not leaving sufficient time to revise their work.
Remember grousing when you've picked up a piece after time has passed and caught obvious errors, "Did I really write it that way?" Most writers seem to be aware that editing their own creations is daunting and not advised. But, sometimes it is necessary. If you don't shove your most recently finished work to the bottom of the pile and turn your focus to something else, when you edit immediately, you are guaranteed to miss obvious changes and to risk rejection slips.
For Inkwell Newswatch, I am required to have three columns on the editorial calendar at all times so the editors can better manage the content of the ezine. Usually I try to have more in the hopper, but occasionally life gets in the way despite my penchant for time management. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have a friend who is an experienced editor read it, but not always because she's too busy. Mostly I try to write and review it several times and still have a week to ignore it before challenging myself to change the prose written in diamonds. However, on larger creations, like a novel, I need a longer period before I can return to it and read it as if I were reading another author's work. How much time you need depends on your style.
For you to take time out may require a change in mindset. If you are a writer that needs to complete one endeavour before tackling another, you handicap yourself. Find a way to trick yourself into believing something is complete, and then work on another writing project or perhaps several more, before returning to review your first piece in time to meet a deadline.
We seem to be living in a world where everyone is rushing like a movie on fast forward. This is true for all aspects of our lives, not just the creative part. We forget that if we wrote fewer but better pieces or books, we might often see our byline in coveted publications or on the New York Times Best-Seller list.
As I've written in other columns, sometimes fate interferes. In essence, it demands we pause until we have a long, lazy afternoon to take the red pen to the hard copy.
Yes, I hear you young folks who grew up doing everything on the computer questioning the validity of printing out the work in order to edit. However, I've heard that even for you, it is more difficult to edit on-screen than sitting in a comfortable chair with a cool drink at your side, maybe your pet on your lap, and role playing as an editor. Try it! The change of venue can be inspiring.
Some years ago, friends taught me the efficacy of doing things in stages – from household chores to major projects – and fortunately it has carried over into my writing. I no longer have boring Sunday or any day afternoons, but I find the time to pause and write better. Then I can say when I read the published piece, "Yes! I really wrote that!"
Helen Dunn Frame. A Syracuse University journalism school graduate, published in major newspapers, magazines and trade publications in the United States, England, and Germany. Her writing skills and love of travel led her to write her mystery novel Greek Ghosts. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: http://www.helendunnframe.com