One of the best pieces of writing advice I know is to give yourself perspective on anything you write. Once it is finished, stick it away in a box for a week, a month, however long, and then go back and read it again with new eyes; as a reader would.
This is wonderful advice because without fail it allows you to spot all sorts of mistakes that you were previously too close to see: everything from typos to continuity to inconsistencies of tone, voice and character. And that’s all good because it helps you make the work much better than it was.
But it’s not the only benefit. Perspective, that reading anew, also allows you to genuinely enjoy your writing; a phrase, an exchange, a description that you really nailed. Almost as if it was written by someone else.
Love it when that happens.
2 thoughts on “Turn, and look again”
Alas, in features journalism, you seldom have the opportunity to put something you’ve written away for anything more than a few hours — often, I rely on the “fresh perspective” you can get on something simply by formatting it in a different font or size. Still, I guess that’s (a) my choice, because I always leave things to the last minute, and (b) acceptable given that my general goal is about being comprehensible on a single reading, rather than offering a beautiful turn of phrase.
When you’re working under a deadline you don’t have the same luxuries. But then you get paid more regularly…so, horses for courses?