Ready to edit your first draft? Here’s what to do first.

You did it—you now have a full draft!

It might be a complete mess. Your blog post, press release, or email might be disorganized, awkward, and full of grammatical errors. But somewhere in there is all the information you’re trying to convey, and the story you’re trying to tell.

So what do you do next?

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Step back and leave your draft alone for a while.

“What the heck?” you might be thinking. “You were all about saving time in the previous post, now you expect me to take a break, slack off, procrastinate?

Not exactly.

Just like in dating, getting some space and taking a break can save your writing. It can help you clear your head and get a fresh perspective.

Time away from your project can make it seem more like new when you come back to it. This can give you a little more objectivity when you’re editing.

Plus, it can help you recover from any “burnout” you may be experiencing after all your hard work writing your first draft.

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How long should you wait?

The length of your break depends on the project and your own deadline. The longer you wait, the better–usually. As long as you don’t wait so long that you lose interest or forget about your project!

In his book On Writing, Stephen King recommends waiting at least six weeks after finishing the first draft of a manuscript.

Of course, if you’re writing under a tight deadline, six weeks is not practical.

A week or more is good for longer projects. But if your project is urgent, you might not have even 24 hours.

In that case, give yourself the most time you can spare.

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If you’re scrambling to finish a writing project at work, try to:

  • Work on a different project for a little while to give your brain something else to focus on.
  • Go have lunch before you start editing.
  • Take a bathroom break before you get back to work.

Any space you can give yourself will help you avoid getting overwhelmed and losing focus. You’ll be better prepared to notice mistakes and make good editing decisions.

Need help with your professional writing and editing?

That’s what I’m here for!

I help marketing teams find the right words for their content, so they can save time and communicate more effectively.

I also provide editing and proofreading services, to give you a fresh set of eyes and help you get the most out of your existing content.

And if you’re trying to create a brand-new content plan, I can help you strategize and convey the right message to help you build your reputation and gain new leads.

Got a project in mind? Tell me about it and get a free quote!

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