I can’t actually remember who gave me this advice. It might have been some wizened old crone rummaging through the entrails of some poor slaughtered lamb, or maybe I just read it on a website somewhere. But the entrail story has more cred, so let’s run with that.
Never finish a writing session by finishing off a scene.
Even if you’re in the grip of the muse and the words are flowing like cheap hooch at an Irish wedding (I’m Irish before you get offended), stop before you finish. If you can bring yourself to do it, stop in the middle of a sentence. Using the Slaughtered Lamb Entrail Method™, you’ll find that you’re keen to get back to the page when your next day’s writing session begins. Moreover, you won’t be stuck at the beginning of a new scene, staring at the flashing Cursor of Doom and wondering what happens next. You’ll always have something to pick up and run with.
And as I am doing re-edits right now and running into this very problem I think I might try this one:
When you reach the editing stage, it is often the case that you can get too involved with the story to detect errors. You can see words in your head that aren’t actually there on the page, sentences blur together and errors escape you, and you follow plot threads and see only the images in your skull. One way round this is to read your work backwards. Yeah, I know that seems strange, but what I mean is that you start by reading through the last paragraph, then the one preceding it, and so forth. This kills your involvement in the overall story-telling and enables you to focus on the grammar, the spelling, the ‘nuts and bolts’ of your writing.