Shove it in a Drawer: The Importance of Taking a Break

Ever since I finished writing The Dreams at the tail end of 2016, I’ve been itching to go back and completely rewrite the whole thing.

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Even as I was writing the later chapters I started spotting things I wanted to go back and change. I told myself I had to reach the end before I started messing with the beginning again.

Usually, I’m all for using my enthusiasm for a project as fuel for a monumental task. Going into such a massive undertaking with little or no enthusiasm is a guarantee of failure. In this case, I’m forcing myself to give the draft some space.


The Dreams is getting shoved in a digital drawer for a few months.

It sounds cruel to me. This novel is my baby. Well, it was my baby for more than a year. Now I need to shed that attachment. If I was working on a physical copy I would put it in a drawer. Since my work is completely digital I’ve moved the folder out of my direct sight to reduce the temptation to check in on the poor thing.

I need to make sure I forget what I wrote before I read through it all. If the words are still in my head, I’m more likely to read what I meant to write rather than what I actually wrote. Letting it slip from my memory will allow me to see it with fresh eyes.


Without fresh eyes, I can’t be objective.

I’ve already received some really great feedback on parts of the second draft from readers. I haven’t acted on that feedback yet because I want to look at my own writing without feeling attached to it before I decide if I agree or disagree with each comment and suggestion.

While I’m thinking like the writer I’m more likely to be defensive and excuse something because it was not how I intended it to be. When I’m thinking like a writer the story is my baby and I want to protect it from all the cruel words suggesting it could be improved. Giving myself some time to forget the story will allow me to see it from the perspective of an outsider.

I’m not sure how long of a break I will need. Right now I think I will be ready in the spring, but back in November, I thought I would be ready by February. Whenever I decide I’m ready, I’m confident that the time away will work to my advantage.

Do you take time off from your novel between drafts? What other strategies do you use to look at your work objectively?


5 thoughts on “Shove it in a Drawer: The Importance of Taking a Break

  1. This is exactly what I’ve done with my NaNoWriMo novel. Just the idea of re-reading it the moment I finished it was exhausting. I’ve walked away from the manuscript and have spent the last few weeks finishing my other major project. Once that one is complete I’ll get back to the NaNo MS with fresh eyes. I feel like it’s invaluable to take that time off!

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    • I think working on another project is almost essential to walking away from a completed draft. Time does a lot to put distance between our minds and what we wrote, but turning our thoughts to another story helps clear the clutter from the first project out of the “actively writing” part of our brains.


  2. I lasted about two weeks between drafts one and two. This time, I’m giving it a bit longer but it’s easier because I’m waiting for feedback from beta readers.

    It’ll be worth it when you pick it up again!

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