In one of my favorite books on the craft of writing, On Writing, Stephen King talks about the importance of leaving a rough draft sit for days, weeks, or even months before begin to go through it again.
I’ve noticed, however, that no matter how many passes I make on a manuscript, if I give myself a little break before coming back to it again, I will always find changes.
I’m not saying all the changes are for the better. It just seems that I’m never really completely satisfied. In fact, I’ve been known to change a particular sentence on draft two, then change it back to the original construction in draft three.
So, obviously, these kinds of changes aren’t the important or the big ones. I suspect they are the result of a never satisfied personality. Better said, writing a story or article isn’t the same as doing a math problem. In math, there is one correct answer, but writing is creative and there are several different ways to convey the same message.
The trick becomes knowing when the little tweaks you’re making are not improving the final project, only changing it. When you come to that realization, you’ve probably finished that ultimate goal: a final draft.