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On Not Leaving Reviews Until Later

A photo of a pile of famous books - Persuasion, Northern Lights, The Hobbit, New Moon, and Memoirs Of A Geisha

A few weeks ago I had just finished a book and written down the points I wanted to cover in my review, but after that set my notepad on the desk with the intention of writing the full piece the next day.

Then I realised I had lots of time on my hands and that it was only 2pm and I thought, heck, let’s get the review written already. I ended up writing something I was really proud of and having written it made me feel I’d been really productive whereas before writing it I had felt the day had been somewhat lost.

It has me thinking. Sometimes, writing a review straight after I’ve finished the book leaves me feeling that if I hadn’t done it then I wouldn’t have been able to match the same level of pride. I wonder what I’d have written if I’d left it to such-and-such a time. These are questions I think about a lot, akin to such concepts as what would happen if you hadn’t caught the last bus. I know others think the same, there’s a whole movie based on it.

There are of course many times where I’ve left a task until later, done it well, and wondered the reverse, but here’s the nub: I have more pride and it comes far more often when I get something done straight away. I think that when we do something now there’s this unconscious imperative to do it fully and to do it well because we are happy to have it finished. And we’re all the more aware that tomorrow could bring no time for writing – and hey, if it does then we’ll only need to go through the editing phase rather than drafting.

The feeling that everything is done is amazing. So much better than the feeling that you’ve got lots of time left to complete all your tasks. And it beats the good feeling that comes with having lots of topics in mind.

How do you structure your writing time?


jenn aka the picky girl

August 8, 2012, 4:18 am

I jot notes after I read a book, but I rarely sit down and write a review immediately. I need time for the thoughts to marinate.

That said, if I wait too long, it doesn’t matter what notes I have jotted down. I won’t be able to pull it together well.

My impressions also change, and it takes me a bit to be able to pull them together, which is why I also don’t rate them on Goodreads right away.


August 8, 2012, 12:34 pm

I am the same as Jenn, I prefer writing notes out while I read and after I finish a book and then coming back to it a little bit later to structure it. That way I have all my ideas roughly written down but I also get a chance to reflect on how I feel about the book. It also allows me a few re-writes as my work always needs a few going overs. Sometimes if I leave it too long it doesn’t work, but sometimes it leaving it a while really helps and I can go from hating a book to loving it for making me so angry/unhappy etc…


August 9, 2012, 2:26 pm

I try to write a review as soon as I can, especially if I have a real emotional response to the book. Those feelings just need writing down! I don’t always publish it right away though. I’ll come back to edit it so I don’t sound completely silly.


August 9, 2012, 2:37 pm

I’ve often thought about the advantages and disadvantages of writing a review immediately (or very soon) after finishing versus letting my thoughts “marinate” for a few days.

I don’t always follow the same protocol, but typically wind up writing the review pretty quickly. I remember more that way, for one, but agree that I feel a sense of pride for having checked something off my mental “to-do” list! I typically write the reviews and schedule them for later.


August 10, 2012, 3:25 pm

I try to write my reviews as soon as possible after finishing a book, as find my ideas are fresh then and soon deterioate.

p.s. I’m so happy you managed to add an email subscription for your blog now I will be able to keep up-to-date with you :-)


August 10, 2012, 4:51 pm

Jenn: That’s a point I forgot. Yes, I find that also, sometimes it’s easy to leave things out if writing immediately, and times does aid comprehension. The whole impression’s changing is interesting, it shows us how we change ourselves, so you leaving rating for a while makes complete sense. I often find if I look back at old ratings I feel I ought to change them, but then when are we most like ourselves – when we first review, or a few years later…

Alice: Drafting is brilliant, leaving time after writing before sharing can make such a difference. A change in opinion is something I’ve often thought about, it can be almost embarrassing if you, say, interpret something badly and then realise later, and in that way time is needed.

This is most definitely a subjective topic.

Chris: That is exactly my method, also. Waiting to publish is a good thing because although emotional responses produce raw writing, when we’re caught up in the moment it can, as you say, sound silly later.

Meg: I often find if I have a great amount to say those might get left, though as they tend to be ones that need planning the planning gets done at least. Scheduling is so useful!

Jessica: On that note of ideas being fresh, I’m going to finish the book I’ve a page left to read and get right to the writing, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’m happy in turn that someone has found the email subscription useful! I feel rather silly for not implementing it earlier.



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