Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Power of Waiting

As writers, we spend a lot of time waiting. And it's not our favorite part of being a writer. Not by a long shot.

But sometimes, waiting can be helpful.

Recently, I had one of those times.

Some time ago, I drafted a picture book and sent it to my critique group for feedback.

The group gave me wonderful feedback. (Thanks guys! :o) ) And almost everybody suggested I make a certain change.

After that meeting, I sat down to revise. And I tried to make that change. I really did. But somehow, I just couldn't make it work.

So, I made a minor adjustment that made it a bit better and tried to convince myself that the manuscript was as good as can be.

"Done," I tried to tell myself.

Then came the waiting. I wasn't even aware I was waiting, but time passed. Several months, in fact. Suddenly, I could see my manuscript much more clearly.

Now I could see it. I had to try to make the change my critique group had so wisely suggested. And my mind went to work on solving the problem.

What had seemed impossible several months earlier, suddenly felt doable. I experimented until I came up with a solution that worked.

It may not be perfect. But I do think it is much better. And after a few months of waiting, making the change became possible.

So, what positives (if any) have you found from waiting?


  1. Whenever I know I need to change something but can't figure out how, I need distance. Somehow it clears my head so I can return to the project and make it better.

    My agent asked me to add to my YA fantasy, which was about 62K. I got it to 70K and hit a wall. I knew something was missing from the subplot I'd added, but I couldn't figure it out. I took a few months away and then it hit me and the next thing I knew, I hit 80K and was so happy with the finished product.

    I'm a new follower from the Blue Boards. :)

  2. I have a rule I made for myself: a new story gets 'shelved' between drafts. I even have the number of days set, which works for me.
    Here's to waiting!

  3. Yes, a cooling off period is always a good idea even if you're not stuck and think the manuscript is perfect!

  4. After I finished the first draft of my YA novel, I was sure it was crap. I couldn't even bring myself to look at it for two months. When I was finally ready to have a look again, I was pleasantly surprised. It not only didn't feel like crap anymore, but I actually fell in love with the story all over again. A good way to begin revisions!
    Congrats on working out the picture book problem. I have a few of those waiting myself.

  5. Thanks for the great comments, guys!

    Kelly-- Congrats on your YA revision! That is awesome! (And welcome to the Paper Wait! Looking forward to seeing you around here and the Blue Boards. :o) )

    Mirka-- Wow! What a great rule! (And I'm extremely impressed with your discipline to stick to it. Waiting is hard, even when it's you who's making you wait. :o) )

    Gale-- Yep! When I think the manuscript is perfect, I probably need to wait even more then when I have a problem with it!

    inluvwithwords-- Wow! What a wonderful surprise! Falling in love with your story all over again must have been so wonderful!

  6. I always need space. Especially because I usually need to add to manuscripts. I think my brain percolates when I'm away from my work and gets ready to expand plot threads without me even knowing it.

  7. Cool, J.A.! "Percolates" is the perfect word for it! It is so awesome when my brain does that!

  8. Brianna,

    When you mentioned "waiting" I thought you meant waiting for the email from the agent or editor! Scary in itself, but waiting for your own brain to percolate as Judy mentions is also a hard do. Yes, letting time go by and then reviewing the manuscript again with the light of the new day does shine the beam on the problems.