In response to a reader’s request for tips on revision, Neil Gaiman writes:
The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. Finish the short story, print it out, then put it in a drawer and write other things. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.
To me, Mr. Gaiman is spot on. Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do in the world – it’s almost like I feel guilty when a put a piece down. The reward, though, is always there – in the form of fresh eyes and an improved product.
You fail only if you stop writing.
I’ve written about 2,000 short stories…and I feel I’m still learning.
If you are going to learn from other writers don’t only read the great ones, because if you do that you’ll get so filled with despair and the fear that you’ll never be able to do anywhere near as well as they did that you’ll stop writing. I recommend that you read a lot of bad stuff, too. It’s very encouraging.