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Friday, April 9, 2010

Walk Away

Business is slow on the LCS Writes front this month, so I put myself on sale (ten percent off the price of a writing job, and/or ten percent from the final bill, to be paid to anyone who refers a new client that results in a project in April. How is that for blatant solicitation?) Anyway, as a result, other than trying to drum up business, I have time to work on the creative pieces that I’m trying to write, which leads me to today’s topic.

A year ago, as I shifted in my chair and coped with my only dose of unemployment in almost 30 years, I made Middle Passages my job. After dropping our daughter off at school, I cracked my knuckles and sat down to the computer to craft a daily essay. After say, several hours, I’d walk away, returning later to edit the you-know-what-out of the piece before clicking on “publish.” I had, as it were, the luxury of time.

Now that I have work--sporadic though it may be--and volunteering, and other projects that interest me too, sometimes Middle Passages suffers, and to be perfectly honest, I crammed my post in yesterday. It may have sounded like the life of leisure amid my two walks, but with no paying work on the immediate horizon, I directed myself elsewhere between strolls, spending several hours at the library where I focused on the um, less lucrative side of my writing life. Then, since I had a networking phone call scheduled for after supper, I wanted Middle Passages off my mind before we ate, and, well, I rushed.

Here’s what I want to say today folks. No matter what, take a break from your writing so you can come back and read it with fresh eyes. Yesterday’s post struggled with run-on sentences, misplaced and missing commas, extraneous words, and a general lack of flow. Truth be told, I was slightly horrified with myself this morning. If you read it now, I think I’ve fixed most of it. But sheesh, what a reminder.

Today’s lesson: if you hurry to publish a blog post, a story, a letter, a memo, an email, a poem, a book, you are going to miss things.

As a high-scoring champion in a check-off-the-to-do-list world, I live with a compulsion to get things done that gets me in trouble some times. Yesterday’s post was a case in point. So take it from me. Walk away. Peel some potatoes. Think of other projects. Go for a run. Conduct the networking call. Whatever. Get the piece out of your mind so you can read it later with an objective view. Then see what you find. I promise, your delay will serve to improve things.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I walked away from this one twice.

Did you ever wish you didn’t press publish, or send?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Guess that's why I don't reread my posts - I'd probably want rewrite all of them! But the A-Z Challenge has really forced me to think through each and every post I create.

glnroz said...

Well now,, what does that tell you about me? i didn't see a thang wrong with either one of them..:)

Yvonne Osborne said...

Oh, yes! I often have.

"It is never finished, is often said of us." -emily dickenson

Maribeth said...

Have I ever! And how about when you think it was pretty good and someone in the know comments (not even criticizing) but it makes you realize you goofed?
Live and learn -- and thank the one who helped.

Helen Ginger said...

Once I have an idea, I write it. Then I go back and re-read it. If it's a blog post, I may read it through twice then publish it. If it's a manuscript, it goes through many edits over time. Like you, I try to put it away for several weeks or more, then re-read it and start the edits.

Straight From Hel

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

It seems like providence to have read this today. I was literally on my way to the post office to send out two queries for my manuscript--heart thumping, stomach queasy, feeling downright paralyzed--and I found myself slowing, not bothering to look for the post office that I knew was around somewhere (unfamiliar with town), and guess what? By the time I got there, I was two minutes past closing, and I nearly wanted to cry, but then, I felt immense relief. Because I realized I wasn't ready. Maybe I will be in a couple of days, but not yet.

So yes, it's important to take a break, to think before hitting publish, before sending that query. Hm...time to go blog, I think. And then, time to hit that manuscript and synopsis and figure out what's giving me pause.

Robin said...

I found your blog via Sharon. You probably already know that you are on her blogroll. I did an internal cringe when I read this blog because I know that I don't write as carefully as I should. I have other issues that drive me nuts and may show up in a blog! So, I skipped over your blog of disenchantment and read your flower blog. I enjoyed that one immensely. I have a brown thumb, too. My grandmother, though, could make anything grow and it was gorgeous. Turns out my brother inherited her gift, and his yard becomes more stunning each summer. I am so envious that it is really unattractive, so I say nothing. Well, that isn't true. I tell him wonderful it looks yada yada yada. But inside I am totally green with jealousy. Then I remind myself that I don't LIKE yardwork and I feel tons better.

m. heart said...

Liza, a friend who knows I freelance on the side sent this article regarding MA law to me yesterday and I was caught completely by surprise — I'm wondering if this could be an issue for your own freelance endeavor? It made me reconsider a big self-promotional mailing I was about to do.