I was waiting for a washing machine delivery earlier this week. While waiting (and after I read the product manual online) I sent out a question to The Writing Cooperative Facebook group. I asked, “How do you clean up your writing?”
The answers were a mixture of editing tools and techniques. Though, one person got me: “Let it soak for a while before I come back.” Brilliant.
In my budgeting and writing opus, Rule 4 is “Age Your Words.” Far too often we create something and immediately put it out into the world for consumption. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this. The majority of our internet platforms, in fact, encourage immediate publication and gratification.
However, there is something to be said about the aging or marinating or soaking process (there are plenty of analogies and all of them work). I know a 45-day dry-aged steak tastes better than a fresh cut one. I also know sometimes I need to soak my clothing to help get the stains out. Both of these processes take more time than I’m sometimes willing to put in, but the end result cannot be denied.
This doesn’t just work for creative endeavors, the same is true of just about everything. Factor in a little time for whatever you’re doing to allow it to soak. Worst case, nothing changes and the result is just as good tomorrow as today. Best case? You find a new take, a new idea, or a new possibility along the way.
Let it soak.
A version of this story originally appeared in my weekly newsletter, Eat Your Words. Eat Your Words is an idiom meaning to take back what you’ve said. For me, the phrase combines my two favorite things: eating and writing. The Eat Your Words by Justin Cox newsletter mixes writing and creativity advice with featured meals and recipes. It’s the best of both worlds, delivered right to your inbox every week. Subscribe today!