Improve Your Writing Overnight with the Rule of 24: Guaranteed

Improve Your Writing Overnight with the Rule of 24: Guaranteed

Reader Comments (135)

  1. What a great piece of advice – it’s so tempting to get your post out there as soon as it’s done…. only to find out after your subscribers have been emailed, that there are typos, missed words and a great point you forgot to mention!

  2. I can’t find a flaw in that. It makes great sense, and any time I’ve “sat on it”, I think I’ve made it better, or it’s been deleted as waste and fluff and I’ve written the next thing better. But too many times I don’t just wait, and you bring it out as such an integral part of the process. Dang, I need to change up again.

  3. I can sign myself under this post.

    I do it and every time I change something. Either change a word, either I delete the whole paragraph that suddenly does not seem so important – or better said is totally obsolete.

    So yes, my experience tells me, 24 hrs rule rules. 🙂

  4. The Rule of 24 has always worked for me. Writing is more of a spontaneous activity while editing is being objective. The two should be well spaced and not mixed together. Great post, Larry. Drives home the point.

  5. Actually, this should be promoted to The LAW of 24. I know I am playing with fire if I submit anything without letting it marinate for 24.

    Just wondering though…Does your nifty rule get better with time. Does my writing get twice as better if I let it sit for 48 hours?

  6. Great advice, I have made the mistake of hitting “publish” as soon as I am done only to find later a number of spelling and punctuation errors, half finished sentences etc.

    If only everything in business was this simple!


  7. I am definitely guilty of bypassing the Rule of 24 and I regret it almost every time. I hereby vow to never again hit PUBLISH until I have let at least 24 hours go by…unless the post is late, then I’ll just have to edit it later.

  8. Larry, I think this is your best Copyblogger post ever.

    Simple but powerful concept, packaged with fun one-liners (the voting for Kate G… still has me cracking up).

    Geez, now do I have to wait 24 hours to submit this comment?

  9. Umm…not to nitpick, every day you have a draft, and then wait for 24 hours. You’ll find at least one thing to change. Then again you wait for 24 hours. Wait. You don’t find anything to change? Really. Try another 24 hours.

    Just joking. I partially disagree. It might be true for novels and other stuff, but some blog posts are time sensitive. You cannot wait for 24 hours (because tomorrow it’ll be so yesterday). For the rest, yes, you can wait, but don’t get obsessive with that. There’s no harm in being compulsive. Even the best classics can be re-written, because there is never a thing called “the perfect draft” (sounds like the title of a movie).

    ~~ Sarah ~~

  10. And if I wait another 24 hours I will make it even better, and another 24, and another 24, and that way I will never publish it.

    I’m just teasing you, of course the rule makes sense, and I am sorry I do not apply it more often.

    If you can find a reviewer it will work even better, it does not have to be a pro, it can be any one, your spouse or husband, your kids, anyone.

  11. Well, good to know that I am doing something nearly right!

    I have been sleeping on my articles and posts for a long time before submitting or posting them. So maybe not quite 24 hours. Will an extra 12 make the difference? I am willing to try.

  12. Hey Larry,

    I’ve never waited 24 hours to publish an article, post, or sales page. I really can see how this will benefit me. It’s simple but it does require discipline.

    Have a great weekend…

  13. You don’t have to convince me. Yesterday, I wrote a post that I thought was perfect. I would have posted it, but there was another one in front of it in my queue. I’m so glad I waited because I just rewrote the entire thing.

  14. Can we see the version of this blog post 24 hours prior to it going live please?

    Seriously though, good post and as others have pointed out, where time is not too sensitive this approach is a must.

  15. Without a doubt, you make a good point. I have been during something similar to what you are talking about for a few years. On my updates, I teach a method like that but I have not tried twenty-four hours yet.

    Actually, I stumbled across it while playing golf. Most of the guys I play with are evenly matched. In short, not one player can dominate the other. All of them are low handicappers. When I lose money to them, the first then that is said after I pay off the bets, would you like to play tomorrow?

    Hmmm . . . tomorrow is another day. And things are always different the next day.

    It’s my style to simplify things, great post thanks for your help.

  16. Yeah, I agree. I regrettably find the flaws after I send in my guest posts.

    I would argue that you should use the rule of 24 for a lot more than writing.

  17. Amen to that, Larry.

    Show me the top copywriters on the planet and I’ll find something to tighten up.

    Take your 10 favorite blogs you read daily and give it a shot today. You’ll see. I guarantee it.

  18. My high school English teacher, Mrs. Carlson, insisted this was the best way to improve writing too. She called it ‘cooling off the writing.’ I really don’t want to tell her she was right, but that’s how it is.

  19. You are so right, Larry. It’s amazing how it makes so much sense and will I do that now? Oh yes, though it is tempting to press that ‘publish’ button after all that typing. But that feeling when you see the mistakes is worth not having.

  20. Your advice is priceless therapy…for free!

    I have found that it really does make a difference to “refresh” especially after a bout of writer’s block–when suddenly everything gushes out. It’s a relief when the block clears but you may not really want everything that has spewed forth..or maybe you do but need time to organize.

    Either way the 24 hour rule definitely helps put things in perspective. Great post!

  21. @ Toronto Dentist:”Are their any other good rules for editing you would recommend?”
    Use more than spell check to make sure your ok.
    their, there, your, you’re, etc.
    And read it out loud.

  22. Of course it’s great advice, but how does one balance the 24 hour wait with the necessity of cashing in on current search trends?

  23. Wonderful advice. With our time crunches, the trick is to make this 24 hour marinating period a priority in the way we operate our business. Thank you.

  24. I like to let the copy breathe for a bit before I review.

    I probably like that because it’s a wine term, but I’m not going to fight that if it works. 🙂

  25. Great one, Larry. 🙂

    @Sarah, note that Larry said to do this 24 hours after what you think is your final draft. If you do it for each draft you’ll never publish anything. 🙂 Most of us are not writing in topics that are all that time-sensitive, but obviously if you’ve got breaking news, you’ll have to go out without the wait. But the writing won’t be as good. It’s a trade-off.

  26. That is such a critical piece of advice for so many things in life, even buying a course or a house.

    When we go off half-cocked and feverishly work on something then our mind is only working on emotion-fuel. Of course this is the same juice that you want your customers to be running on when they make a purchase from you, but when you are concerned, you want some logic juice to drip in.

    We make purchases with emotions and back them up with logic.

    The same is true when we write. If you wanna get that last piece of awesomeness in your writing, use Larry’s tip and give it 24 hours.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  27. Ah, but it’s so tempting to get it out there for the world to see. It’s so brilliant, it can’t wait another second. I must publish it now 😉

    OK, so I’m kidding. Great advice that I had never come across before. Putting this into action, right after I hit ‘publish’ on this comment.

  28. Sarah, to follow up on what Sonia said, there’s no rule against editing a post after it’s published. So if it’s hot news, get it out there in the best form you can. But come back and make it better the next day so it continues to reflect well on you down the road.

  29. Brian, Sonia…that was a light-hearted remark. I agree, one can always revise even the published draft. Today I revised a blog post on my blog that was written, may be a month ago, as I came across a bit of information that could make that post more useful. I searched for it in the admin and made changes.

    In fact even in terms of SEO it is good to revisit your old, published posts and revise them.

    ~~ Sarah ~~

  30. Wow! God, I was doing this without even knowing this 24 rule ! Actually, once I finish my blog post, I send it to my assistant to correct it (spelling mistakes and stuff) and once she send it to me back (that takes actually 24h) I re-read it, and I’m always adding something, changing some words and even writing new stuff.

    Sometimes, I really feel that I was born to BE a writer 🙂

  31. Hmmm. just read my horoscope that says I shouldn’t fly by the seat of my pants take some time and then I read your information. Great advice.

  32. Haha. This post is great. I’ve kind of started doing this for work, but easily got behind.

    I will try to apply the 24 rule this weekend and see how it holds up for the next few weeks!!

    Good stuff!

  33. The rule is so true, I have noticed it many times, when I revisit my posts, I always find something that needs to be changed to make it better. Now I will make a habit to wait for 24 hours before I publish it.

  34. this was a great article, something i already practice. i guess what i love most about the autor of this article is the way paragraphs are broken up with emphasis being added to individual sentences. if i learned anything from copy blogger thus far it’s how to write an article that can be skimmed and digested at the same time. brilliant!

  35. Yes yes yes! There’s a wonderful parallel here to music mixing, mastering and production: After a long session, if you put everything away and let it sit, and then come back in a day or two and listen again, you’ll see exactly where the changes need to be made. Never fails.

    In a way, it’s giving yourself multiple chances at a first impression. (And we all know how important THAT is.) It’s also a much less frantic way to work.

  36. So true! No matter what I’m writing — blog post, article, novel, nonfiction book, screenplay — letting it sit at least 24 hours allows a bit of objectivity to come in. I never fail to find that I’ve overlooked something I meant to include and thought I had, or something that can be tightened up or reworked, etc. Great post and the editors, agents, managers and first readers across the land are thanking you, because the submissions they see will be better for this rule.
    Thanks so much!

  37. Larry Brooks is spot-on. I’ve always waited 24 hours before submitting content and never fail to make at least one change. Often enough, I experience a big “Whew–am I glad I caught that!”

    Thanks for a great post.

    Cheers. 🙂

  38. In addition to the reasons you give, this suggestion is also consistent with academic research on the importance of incubation in the writing process: another reason you’re right!

  39. I love it. I’ve had the habit of writing something the day before I post it since high school and couldn’t agree more about this time-tested principle.

    What better way to become a better writer than presenting yourself with the ability to see it with fresh eyes BEFORE you publish it to the world.

  40. Great simple tip that I’ve learnt the hard way, and use to my advantage now. In fact, sometimes the only regret that I have with a tight writing deadline is that I didn’t let it ‘sit’.

  41. I almost always wait 24 hours before I press publish. And I’ve also spoken about this benefit, myself.

    It’s such a habit of mine never to publish the same day that I’d actually feel weird pressing ‘publish’ if I wrote the piece in the same day.

    It does make all the difference in the world. If you’re a blog factory, this probably isn’t a good tactic. But if you really care about what you write, making it as wonderful as possible, waiting 24 hours is highly beneficial.

  42. I am always sorry when I don’t follow this rule. Thanks for the reminder of this really easy method of putting one’s best writing foot forward.

    And Brian’s comment about fixing errors and making changes to posts after you’ve published is equally great advice. I could wish that more bloggers would follow the rule of 24 and beyond.

  43. You have articulated exactly what I always try to do. “Sleeping on it” is more precise, as waking with fresh eyes seems to be the key.
    There is one exception though: When submitting to an “editor” (I know this is not all that common anymore, but …) if one leaves in a little tiny typo or tow somewhere, it can make his or her day yes?

    or someone who checks your writing in order to “perfect” it,

  44. You are so right about letting your final copy cool off long enough to get it completely out of your mind. Because when you come back to it, you see obvious ways to improve it. Even after it’s published you’re likely to find something you wish you’d said differently.

    My conundrum is how far to push this fixing stuff. I love the breezy way some authors write, seemingly off the top of their head, but when one edits too much, the writing loses freshness. If it had any to start with.

  45. The Rule of 24 is exactly the way you billed it; it does guarantee a better result.

    I’m going to use it, and my blog readers thank you in advance for the improved content!

    And I thank you for the tip!

  46. Good advice.

    William Gibson rewrote the first half of “Neuromancer” nine times. I think he did a large number of rewrites with “Pattern Recognition” too.

    That seems extreme. Then again, there’s usually a colossal amount of effort that goes into writing which reads effortlessly.

  47. I have always followed your “Rule of 24”. It doesn’t matter how well I think I’ve written something. When I return to it (without having glanced at it for at least 24 hours), inevitably I find ways to improve.

  48. Dave, first line of Neuromancer:

    “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

    You don’t get that on draft one. Maybe not even draft 5. 😉

  49. When I read your title, I was sure this was about the TV show (probably because I’m watching the adventures of Jack Bauer this week), and that it was some creative way to use what Jack Bauer teaches us in order to catch terrorists 🙂

    I have actually never tried the rule 24, but it sounds like a good thing. Thanks a lot, great advice.

  50. This is so true. How often dont you go back and change things anyway,or forget to. How many readers have you lost before you did or did not…

  51. Fantastic post. I’ll be sending you my $49.95 Asap!
    The advice was well worth it.

    I remember Ben Hart giving me the same advice a few years ago.
    “Don’t send anything out for at least a day”.
    “Put your letter a way,” he would say, ” and then come back to it the next day. Then after that give it to a ten year old and let them read it. If they understand it and get excited about your copy, then you have a winner”.

  52. Great tips. I know a lot of writers out there will benefit from this post. Just like me, I would like to write better. Not just good but better then best. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  53. I’m always impressed with how important editing is for great writing. Before reading posts like this, I would have thought that either you are a writing ninja or not. If you are a writing ninja, then you throw down an awesome first draft, and the rest is history. If you’re not, well you might as well give up now. Wrong. The secret to great writing is to write, re-write, and then re-write some more. Actually, the book that helped me the most with this is titled “Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing” and is written by John R. Trimble. It’s far and away the best book on writing that I’ve ever read. If you want to be a better writer, follow the advice in this post and buy this book by John R. Trimble. You won’t go wrong.

  54. I like to publish live, then come back the next day to edit again.

    For some reason there’s always something I don’t catch while the post is in the editor.

  55. Larry

    This follows the – step away from the computer and think about it. It is with a blog post, an email, anything that you are sending out there that requires a read over.

    In the more breaking news style of posts, walking away for even 10 minutes allows you to come back and read it over and see things that you did not originally see. Even for those waiting a day, if it is that big of news people will still want to read it the next day as posting the same day as everyone else many times allows for it to get lost in the shuffle of everyone else covering it.

    Great advice here.


  56. Grood point, you are right. I am by far a great writer, but they say follow good advice and lots of practice. I guess the point is more clear when you proof It, but there are always some tweaks needed. And yes they do seem to stand out after you walk away for that time period.
    Thanks V.H.

  57. This is certainly something I have discovered as well, and in fact I like to leave writing for a bare minimum of 24 hours – even a week or more if I have time. (I do some other writing in the meanwhile). This includes my blogs, which I write a draft for each time.
    I lead a writer’s critique group, and one thing I advise the newer writers especially is: get started on your writing assignment as soon as you can, so you will have time to work on it and improve it. Leave it till last, and you have no opportunity to do so.

  58. I find it really useful to have a rest period rather than continuously do small edits and revisions. You could think yourself crazy and a fresh pair of eyes is always good.

  59. That makes complete sense! I have used that a number of times when I get stuck writing an article or blog post. I come back to the piece later and all of the sudden my mind has processed without me knowing it, exactly how it should be written.

  60. @Hashim, I’m curious, do you preview the post before you post? I always catch things when I see it as it will appear that I didn’t see earlier.

  61. My favorite thing about this post is that it applies to pretty much everything in life, not just writing. A 24 hour reflection period is a great way to come to grips with your own brilliance in all areas of life 😉

  62. Absolutely agree with this. I almost always go back to what I write the day before and it seems to work every time : I get to spot a nasty typo or tweak the content here and there. The final draft turns out to be much better than the one before! Great post!

  63. Larry,

    Such simple but relevant advice. My goal is to get to the point where I CAN let a finished post marinate for 24 hours because there is so much value in that.

    I find when I have that luxury, even though I’ve been writing “tight and concise” for 20 years, there is always a way to improve the piece. And sometimes I end up doing a substantial rewrite. Because, really, does any writer ever think their final draft is good enough to go out into the world? : -)

    I, too, have on occasion slipped that brilliant gem I forgot to include into the comment section.

    A great tip and sound piece of advice. Thanks.

  64. Obviously this will help with perfecting your articles but what about time sensitive articles? If you’re covering minute breaking news if you wait 24hrs you are 24hrs too late. Maybe a blog on writing tips can wait. A breaking news blog cannot.

  65. Thanks for that info.

    I have been a songwriter since I was a teen and attest to the “let it simmer philosophy”. Of course in songwriting you can usually take alot more time in making all the necessary changes, but in any kind of writing the same ideas apply. It’s just nice to know that as writers we all face the same challenges.

    One last thing! Whenever I am feeling a little uninspired in my blog writing, I usually read a Copyblogger post to get my creative juices. Thanks for all the great posts.

  66. @Sandy – you ask if 12 hours still works (I sense your tongue planted firmly in cheek), and others have commented about “time-sensitive” articles and posts. Blog comments, too, which are almost always dashed off without even a few seconds of contemplation before hitting the Submit button.

    So here’s another take on the “Rule of 24.” If something is truly time sensitive, wait 24 MINUTES before you hit the button. Seriously, even that short “step away from the computer” break will prove valuable. If you can squeeze 2.4 hours into the timeliness equation, even better.

    If it’s a blog comment, do everyone a favor and wait at least 2.4 minutes before hitting the Submit button. A bit of dissipated steam and a second reflective look sometimes allows you to make your point stronger, or avoid something you’ll regret 2.4 minutes after you hit that button. I think we’ve all been there.

    Thanks to everyone for chiming in. And Brain is right (isn’t he always?) — you don’t often nail a genius moment on a first pass. Time is the writer’s friend, even when it isn’t.

  67. Awesome advice and I’ve never heard of this before. I have heard about writing a good piece and then reviewing it later and publishing it after the review but never heard it put quite like this.

    Either ways it’s interesting. I’ll try this and see how much my writing improves, seriously.

    Thanks for the tip.

  68. I’m going to try this! My writing is an evolutionary approach overtime, but I’ve never intentionally left a final draft for 24 hours. Great idea.

  69. I would agree. The only time I would disagree is when a post is time sensitive. For instance, I just did one about the World Cup. Most people will hopefully read it before the KO at 15.00 hrs, because after that it will be dated.

  70. I can’t marry an heiress, my hubby isn’t an heir ( I guess I went wrong somewhere), but I have been following the rule of 24 without knowing it. The reason that I do, is when I write I often write sort of stream of consciousness and sometimes jump around a bit. As I am not James Joyce nor am I channeling him, it’s best for me to wait 24 hours and keep my ideas, but edit so I appear to be coherent.

  71. Never heard of this rule Larry it definitely makes sense. I have a real problem going back over my work if I read what I have wrote it usually get thrown away and I rewrite the entire piece. Perhaps this makes me a poor writer, but I can not for the life of me revise something I have written. With your guarantee that the writing will be better waiting 24 hours before publishing it will be worth a try though.

  72. Spot on advice! Although when I was writing my MA application (for professional writing) I must have waited 24 hours for nearly a month… every 24 hours I’d go back to the blasted thing and change it.

    In the end I decided I could write myself around in circles so went with what I had.

    I start working towards the degree in January, so it must have been pretty good!

  73. Great article!
    I was caught in a mess a couple of times when I clicked that publish button right away. I don’t mind as much when it happens to my posts but it is pretty embarrassing when publishing to ezines.

    Thanks for the advice.

  74. I guess it’s indeed better too wait it out a bit before hitting that “publish” button, no matter how urgent that post seems to be.

    Thanks for the advice. (should I wait 24 hours before hitting submit on this one? hahahaha… )

  75. Whitman had something like 15 versions of Leaves of Grass and was working on yet another version when he died. One thing you don’t mention is making a decision and moving on. A great way to kill an idea is waiting, obsessing and making so many changes that the original idea is diluted for proper grammar.

    Make a decision and move on. Also, free advice.

  76. Ouch Martypants – you caught me on that one. After my blushing stopped, I went to confess my spelling sin over on the Inigo Montoya Guide that Brian posted some time ago.

  77. @Jim, yes, absolutely, and yet. Leaves of Grass is so gorgeous. 🙂 Maybe those 15 versions brought something that couldn’t have been reached another way.

    But when we’re writing to support our business? Absolutely — get it to “damned good” and then go to the next thing.

  78. Honest advice! It sometimes is hard for me to write either just not being in the mood or wondering what to write about next. I feel this is going to help me out when I start writing my next post tomorrow!

  79. I am kind of new here, and I am going to take this advice and run with it. I typically take 24 hours already to post my blog post, because I am just wondering about if people are going to like it or not. I am sure I could just go back and read it over quickly.

    Thanks Larry

  80. I have never tried adopting this wait and re-read strategy when writing posts but it makes a lot of sense. On several occasions, I have written articles and because of circumstances such as lack of time, other commitments I have been forced to revisit and finish later. Whenever I have done this, I find mistakes that I did not know were there before. I’ll definitely give this a go!

  81. I always do this – it works.

    You get some distance from your work, enough distance to see the whole landscape and think again about how your audience will interpret it.

  82. Beautiful. So simple, but so true. And not just with writing, but any project. As Project Manager in a creative firm, I know just how wise and true this tip is. Unfortunately sometimes crunch time comes along and you just don’t have 24 hours to let it sit before you have to send something into the client. But whenever possible, the 24 hour rule is a part of the process.

  83. Writing few quality posts rather than many post of low quality helps. 2 post/ week which are well researched will bring you more traffic than daily updates.

  84. This is a rule I always stick to. The only time it doesn’t happen is when clients want me to write something and they need it the same day. I tell them they’ll get something better if I can send it to them tomorrow. (Question to self: why couldn’t they get their act together and brief me about the piece of writing the day before? Why is everything always needed in a screaming hurry?)

  85. You’re right on point with this one. But, sometimes, we just have to know when to let go. When I edit my work, it always seems better 24 hours later. I’ve created my own rule to stop editing madness…Commit to a final draft after two revisions (period)… Okay, maybe three.

  86. I agree with Chamois. For perfectionists, 24 hours becomes 48, then 72, … The second part of the rule should be “Let it go before you lose your nerve.”

  87. Great advice, I think the rule can work for shorter periods of time too. Often if you’re lacking inspiration, taking even an hour out to do something else before returning to your writing can work wonders. A short time out will give you a chance to develop your ideas further, turning good writing into excellent writing.

  88. Sounds so simple! I am always running behind on keeping things up to date and never think to sit on a post or article for 24 hours, it is always, write and publish, move on.

  89. Yep, that one nugget, “give your final draft 24hrs” is brilliant. And it means I have to start my writing sooner. Which is also brilliant. Thanks! -DB

  90. Good article.


    I have some questions–why 24 hours? why not some checklist?
    Earlier, I followed a checklist and now it is almost a practice to follow that checklist without even remembering it–it has become my second nature before publishing 🙂

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