In an article I’ve saved for a long time, Gail Godwin names her inner critic the “Watcher at the Gate.” The Watcher is “the intellect that examines too closely the ideas pouring in at the gates … passionately dedicated to one goal: rejecting too soon and discriminating too severely.”
Godwin writes, “It is amazing the lengths a Watcher will go to keep you from pursuing the flow of your imagination. Watchers are notorious pencil sharpeners, ribbon changers, plant waterers, home repairers and abhorrers of messy rooms or messy pages. They are compulsive looker-uppers. They are superstitious scaredy-cats. They cultivate self-important eccentricities they think are suitable for ‘writers.’ And they’d rather die (and kill your inspiration with them) than risk making a fool of themselves.”
“Revision” means to “see again.”
How do you to see your writing from the detached perspective necessary for revision when you’ve been immersed in it? Here are five ways you can approach revision with a fresh look at your manuscript.
1) Put It Away
Take the longest break possible between finishing your draft and revision. Time away from your work will give you the emotional and psychological distance you need to see it anew. Unless you’re bound by a contest or contract deadline, let your book-length work rest for up to six months.