As a freelance writer I’ve learned to allow my writing to rest. I call this “incubation time,” and I always build it into my project schedules. Incubation time is a little like allowing bread dough to rise before you bake it. Without that rising time, the bread comes out flat.
There are several good reasons to schedule some incubation time:
1. It settles the frustration. How many times have you written, rewritten, and edited, and the words still don’t sound right? Giving your writing a day or two of rest helps drive out irritation.
2. Incubation increases observation and interpretation. After setting your writing aside for a while, you are more likely to view it through the eyes of a reader instead of a writer or editor. It gives new perspective to your writing voice.
3. Fresh ideas hatch when a project incubates. Resting your writing makes room in your head for ideas to form. You might discover a new motivation for your main character or solve a puzzling plot problem.
4. Errors become obvious after some incubation. You’ve said it— I know you have— “Why didn’t I catch that?” When a writer rushes toward a deadline, errors happen. Building in some rest time makes errors seem to leap off the page.
5. Incubation allows you to rebuild your strength. Writing without rest is like an athlete training too long and too hard. Sports medicine has a name for it, Overtraining Syndrome. Some of its symptoms are a washed-out feeling, tiredness, lack of energy, a sudden drop in performance, moodiness, irritability, depression, and loss of enthusiasm. Resting your writing for a scheduled amount of time is like a cold drink on a hot day and a long, refreshing nap.
Remember—schedule your incubation time. Without scheduling, you risk forgetting to allow your writing to rest, or worse setting aside your project forever.
Do you build incubation time into your writing schedule?
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