A few weeks ago, I was a bit frustrated with one of my college-attending sons. He had emailed a term paper for me to edit that was due the following day. As I started reading, it became clear the paper wasn't ready for final review. As best I could figure, he'd spent the previous 24 hours feverishly drafting the 15 page document, probably realizing at the end it needed more work than he had time remaining. My review was less edit than critique, indicating I thought it still needed work, which I'm sure didn't please the harried student. The main take-away chide: for a paper this length, always allow at least of week of aggregate writing time to include a minimum of three separate writing sessions. Each session provides a “new” set of eyes, much like a peer review. My son muddled through, actually turning out a pretty good piece, even as I conceded his next paper would suffer a similar fate.

Though I doubt there'll be much long-term benefit for my son, the exchange did convince me it was time for a short personal writing retreat. It'd been over two years since I dusted off my trusty writing books. I could sense I needed a refresher: I seemed to be getting stuck more often, struggling with what to say and how to say it. I was laboring with my blogs and articles.

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