Writing in Layers: How do you decide when you’re done?

Does anyone else feel like their writing evolves in layers?

Each time I reread my work, I add more and take more away, sculpting it into something new, something better.  I’m afraid I’ll never know when I’m done this way.

How do you decide when you’re done?  Set yourself deadlines?  Read a certain number of times?  Share with a set number of readers?  Stay as long as it remains enjoyable?

I thought I would be done in two weeks, but now that I’ve crawled back inside, I could probably live here a lot longer.

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6 thoughts on “Writing in Layers: How do you decide when you’re done?

  1. kingmidget says:

    I have the exact opposite problem. When I write a story, it’s there in my head. Or, at least most of it. Once I get to the end, I’m done. If I go back and read the story later, I almost never think of ways to expand it or reduce it. Although, I’m forcing myself to do that with the novel I’m editing for publication. Instead, I generally read what I’ve written and think “well, that was the story, that is the story, I don’t know what else to do with it.” I wrote a story a few years ago — about 13,000 words. Somebody read it and said they could see it having novel potential. I responded, “really, please tell me where.” Because I just couldn’t see where and how to expand it.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Interesting. I think I’d prefer to feel your way and be done. A friend said to me last night that I’ll know I’m done when I can live with it. Made sense to me. Now I just have to get to that point. 🙂

  2. hipmamamedia says:

    I like what kingmidget said, “It’s there in m head.” My writing always starts in my head. I carry the idea around for a while, think of different angles, leads or perspective then commit a couple to the screen and let it stew a bit before I come back and see which one pops! Also, my writing is not always chronological. I don’t always start at the beginning. I might think of a great middle, or ending first and then I write from that point forward or backward. As far as knowing when you are done, I don’t really set deadlines for my blog writing. I deal with those way too much in my day job! I write, edit, then lay off a bit. Come back and do some tweaking, then lay back again. If it feels clunky or dull, I keep editing. If feel its done when I have made my points, shared perspective and/or covered the angles I originally thought of in a way that will engage the reader.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      I like the idea of not always writing from the beginning. It makes a lot of sense to me. I’m just such a perfectionist that I feel like there is always something that can still be better in my novel writing. I think I’ve settled on the idea that I’ll be done when I can live with it, (which I think is achievable!).

  3. Covetotop says:

    I love writing novels. I write them in Spanish (English isn’t my native language, and it’s quite an effort for me to write anything in English, including my blog). But, in any case, my feeling when I write is that I’m not writing: the characters themselves seem to write their own stories. I just listen to them and transcript what they say. And when they cry “Ey, buddy, we’re done!”, then I’m done too.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      I like that. I definitely knew when my story was done, but now I don’t know how much time to spend “fixing it.” I’m thinking it’s probably a similar thing, I’ll just know. I just scare myself that I could go on making little changes forever. Your English is great by the way!

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