One the biggest challenges I think most writers face while editing is being able to distance themselves from their own work.
We need to be able to do this, otherwise those trouble spots remain hidden. Some of us do this by letting a passage of time go by when we don’t look at our manuscript. No reads, no re-writes, no sneak peaks. Nothing. While I think this is necessary, is it enough?
Somehow, we need to be able to turn off our writer brain, and become a reader. We need to be able to see our work as if it is the very first time we’re reading and have no expectations.
One of the things I do is I turn on my comments feature. Just this act is like a trigger for me: it means no writing, no deleting, all I’m allowed to do in comment mode is find weaknesses and them point out. I go through the whole manuscript like this is one shot, or in big sections, about 100 pages at a time, depending on the stage I’m at. Then I do it again, this time reading the comments, seeing if I understand them and if I agree with them. Most of the time, I’ll delete a few, add a few. This also gives me a chance to see different ways of fixing these problems.
As it happens, I was reading February’s issue of Writers’s Digest and there was an article on how giving feedback to others really helps tone our own writing (I’m a strong believer of this). It explains how when we read for own pleasure, we naturally skip over things that hold no interest to us, or are boring, or gross, or or or. As writers, we want to eliminate these spots as much as possible from our writing, so we need to notice what we skip over. This means to only being a reader, but an aware reader. It means reading for work and not for pleasure. Reading with energy and for a purpose.
What about you – any tips on how you go from being a writer to a reader?