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Things will look different in the morning. Very true, on most days. I don’t know why, but sleeping seems to change your perceptions of things: when you wake up, you see them differently.

But different doesn’t always mean better. The late-night email that seemed such a good idea at the time. Read it again in the morning, and… we all know that sinking feeling.

It’s just the same (but in a less embarrassing way) with most kinds of business writing. You whack your ideas down, get them in the right order, read it back and it looks great. But read it again the next day, and somehow it’s not so wonderful.

In most cases, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with the first draft – it’s just that you’ve subconsciously thought of a better way of doing it. And that better way seems so startlingly obvious in the morning, you can’t believe you wrote the first version. What were you thinking of?

Thomas Edison’s belief in ‘sleeping on it’ is well documented. If he was stuck for an answer to a problem, he would let his subconscious work on it overnight. And more often than not, he would wake up with the solution.

If deadlines allow, we should do the same when writing – and never send anything to its reader straight away. A few hours away from a pile of words, and the brain has a canny way of knocking them down and rebuilding them, giving them order and precision. Maybe also adding some new ideas.

I can’t recommend this overnight test highly enough. It has rescued many an average piece of copy, and even prevented a few turkeys hatching.

If you haven’t already, try it. It’s just like saving an alcohol-fuelled email in ‘drafts’. In the morning, you’ll be so relieved you did it.

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