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Monday, September 23, 2019

7 Tricks to Refresh a Scene You've Edited 68345.27 Times 🤪

You know how when you go to Japanese restaurants, they always give you ginger to help clear your palate? I wish something like that existed for when you are editing something you've already edited 50 times.

It would make the life of a writer so much easier.

Luckily, there are a few tricks that can help fool your mind, at least to some degree.

1. Take a Break

Probably the most obvious and most common advice is to step way from the scene, or project, long enough for your eyes to go "cold," as they say. In some cases, it may be helpful to take a break from all forms of creative writing. For some, two days may be enough. Others might need a month, or longer.

While that is probably the most helpful approach, it's not always realistic. It's time consuming (obviously), and if you are on a deadline, it might not be an option. So let's talk about some other ways.

2. Change the Font

If you change the font of what you are editing, it can sometimes fool your mind enough into thinking the scene or project is "fresher." It's not as effective as taking a break, but it can still be pretty darn effective.

3. Change Position or Setting

Similarly, if you tend to write in the same area(s), try going to a place you usually don't write. Can you go outside? In a fancy room? In a closet? To a cafe?

Or maybe it would be helpful to change your position. Instead of sitting up, try lounging in bed, or perhaps standing.

4. Print off on Paper

I've often found that printing off an overworked scene can help give me a fresh perspective. I might edit the writing right on the page.

5. Read Aloud

Reading aloud actually uses a different part of the brain than reading silently. This is why some kids are great at reading on their own, but struggle to read when called on in class.

As a bonus, reading aloud can also help you find typos, awkward phrases, or poor dialogue.

6. Read Aloud to Someone Else

From my experience, reading aloud to someone else can sometimes double that effect.

7. Trust the Process

In a show I like to watch sometimes called "The Profit," businessman Marcus Lemonis goes in to failing businesses and helps them succeed. On occasion, he tells people to "trust the process."  Meaning, rather than trying to trust him, other people, or maybe even themselves, they should trust the process of becoming a better business.

A few months ago, an ad came up on my Facebook, where best-selling author Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code) said something similar. He said there will be days when you feel like you can't write, days where it feels impossible and you don't have it in you. That, he said, is when you trust the process.

You trust the process of writing a story, scene, or whatever, regardless of how you feel.

If you've been writing long enough, you should be somewhat familiar with the process, or even, your own personal process.

So maybe you feel like your brain is going to fall out if you have to edit this scene one more time--trust the process. Trust the technique and steps needed to write a good one, and follow it through.

(Maybe the last one isn't technically a "refresh," but it can be, and it can be helpful.)


  1. Usually by the time I hit 50 edits, it's time to submit the chapter to my critique group, so I'm forced to stop. Almost immediately after I send it out, all sorts of great revision ideas will come to me. Maybe I need to meet with my critique groups once a week instead of once a month.

    1. Yeah, something about sharing it with others can also be helpful! (Even before they read it)


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