I was at an authors talking event recently, and a lady in the audience said that she was a writer, she’d written a book, and, as advised, she’d put it into a drawer to sleep. What she wanted to know was, how long should she let it sleep? (If this was you, I was right behind you. Good question).
I can’t remember the exact answer, but it was along the lines of ‘as long as it needs to’.
I put my book away between drafts and usually get it out when I am desperate to start working on it again. However, the one I’m working on now needs to be done by the end of the year, so it’s sleep period can only be a couple of weeks.
On the other hand, I once put a ghost story away for a while. I found it about three years later, and read it. I’d forgotten it completely, so I came to it fresh. I read it and it was good, it was really good, I was really enjoying it – and then discovered I hadn’t written an ending. That was very frustrating. I’d completely forgotten what the ending was supposed to be.
I normally get a feeling for when my book is ready to be looked at it again. It’s like it starts tugging at me. The story will start bouncing around my head again, with all new ideas as to how I can improve.
So how long to let it sleep? Until it’s ready, but if you’re not sure, about a month is a good period of time, I think. Long enough for a space, not too long you forget what it was all about.
The author – Anthony Horowitz – also said something else good for us to remember. He’s always convinced, when he’s finished a book, that it’s the best book ever written ever! And then, six months later, when it’s about to be published, that it’s the worst book ever written ever. I think the lesson is, we can never judge our own writing fairly. And also that Anthony Horowitz gives really good talks.