It’ll still be there tomorrow.
I say this a dozen times a week to myself, co-workers, and friends when I see us running ourselves into the ground for work. Unlike most people, I love to work. However, you have to know when to shut the computer down, leave the office or house, and go have a life.
This week’s chapter discusses the revision process and includes a very important step: taking a break.
It’s very easy to let work consume us, especially if we’re excited about the project or obsessed with deadlines. When you’re writing, you have to know when to take a break or put the first draft down for a few days. Felder recommends these tips, and I added my secrets, too:
- Watch a movie, good or bad. Sometimes a bad movie is just as good because you can tear it apart or make fun of it. Slasher movies are great for this. Reruns of your favorite shows are an option as well because they can make you laugh, cry, or reignite excitement.
- Soak in a bubble bath. Relaxation can do wonders for your mind and body.
- Pick a hobby. Hobbies are great for releasing stress and taking your mind off of your project. A good workout has the same effect and keeps you healthy.
- Call or hang out with friends, but don’t talk about your writing. Just enjoy good company and maybe a drink.
- Immerse yourself in nature. Stop for a moment and literally smell the roses, watch the sunset or moon, and wish upon a shooting star.
How do you decide what changes need to be made?
Once you are refreshed and ready, it’s time to rewrite. Felder’s tips for changing your perspective are very helpful, and I was surprised by her ideas. For the full list, check out Chapter 13.
- Zoom in or out of your document. This either forces you to focus on one scene or the big picture.
- Print a hard copy and read the entire thing from beginning to end. You don’t have to do this in one sitting; treat it like a magazine or book. Look for plot holes, confusing sections, and flow.
- Read it aloud. You will hear how it sounds and decide if it drags or doesn’t make sense. I do this with every manuscript I read, and I recommend every author do this on their own before every giving it to an editor. Especially the dialogue.
- Let someone else read it. Most of us do not like criticism, but if you are going to put your stuff out there, get used to it. Take the feedback gracefully, keep your negative attitude to yourself, and take suggestions seriously. The person who reads it is only trying to make it better.
This was one of my favorite chapters because it covered things that are as important as all the technical writing stuff. You must take care of yourself before you can do anything else. Stepping away for an allotted time will not only make your work better, it makes you better.
What do you do to take a break from work or writing? Share your tips!
Need a two-minute break, check out tough-guy Dean from Supernatural.