In the 1970’s, the Paul Masson winery launched a series of memorable commercials in which the memorable Orson Welles intoned this memorable tag line: “We will sell no wine before its time.”
That’s good advice, because if wine hasn’t matured, it tastes vile. It’s also good advice for anyone who writes. Prose that’s published before its time can be pretty vile, too.
One reason people publish before the work is ready is to keep to their own self-imposed deadline. They’ve decided that they should post to their blog every day or they want to publish a book before the next birthday with a zero in it.
If you set the deadline, you can change the deadline. Of course, if you are constantly missing the deadlines you set, you have a problem, but it’s a different problem.
Another reason that people publish before the work is ready is that they’ve agreed to a deadline that they can’t keep. Sometimes they do that because of pressure from a client or publisher. Sometimes they do that because they overestimate how quickly they can complete the project.
In the beginning of my career, that was me, big time. I always worked out the time a project would take, but then I didn’t allow for surprises or for other work. Crisis followed.
Here’s why you need to give your writing time.
- The idea needs to ripen.
- Revision takes time.
- Editing takes time.
Not much good finished writing happens without ripe ideas, revisions, and editing. So, keep intoning to yourself in your best Orson Welles voice: “I will publish no prose before its time.”