March 27, 2007

Premature Submit-ulation

Stick it in a drawer for two weeks when you're done.
How many times have you heard that advice? (If this is the first time, run-don't-walk to your local bookstore and get yourself a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers or Stephen King's On Writing.) I think there's more than one reason that this is a great piece of advice.
The first reason is to give yourself some distance from the work. After living in a piece for days/weeks/months, it's just hard to see the commas for the uncrossed T's. Some time away (or even better, some time on another project) helps you reacquire that objective eye.
The other reason is to give yourself a chance to calm down. Whether this reason applies to you or not depends on the type of writer you are when it comes to submitting your work.
There seems to be two camps when it comes to submitting: those that have to force themselves to send their work out into the world (sometimes at great personal pain) and those that have to restrain themselves from sending work out the second they've typed the final D in The End.
Unlike other categorizing of writers (and of that, there's no short supply), I don't think you're destined to be in any one of these camps permanently. As you get more and more comfortable with submitting, any angst you feel about it will most likely fade. Eventually, the second you're "done" a piece, you'll want to fire it out into the world. This is a bad, bad thing to do. Writers who are in this camp mix up the exhilaration of the creation with the satisfaction of being done. This usually happens when a draft has just been completed. But complete doesn't necessarily mean done.
I absatively (apologies Mr. Gaiman) guaran-damn-ty that what you think is done today will change tomorrow. I know, because that's the camp I live in. Hell, I've got a couple streets and a wash basin named after me there. The point is, no matter how ready you think something is, a few weeks distance won't hurt anything. In fact, it will help.

1 comment:

Frank Baron said...

Unless you're speaking specifically of books, I agree with letting some time go by but not necessarily two weeks. I like to have something sit for at least two or three days - longer if it's in the major opus category. There are also occasions, in nonfic writing particularly, when you might be hit with short deadlines and have to turn something in ASAP.

Time's a luxury in more ways than one eh?

Good post. :)