At my creativity group this afternoon, I read two long chapters from my novel. Reading to groups is a bit problematic, especially a group that meets once a month because the story goes on and they don't know the intervening chapters or events or character issues, but it does me great good to read it and hear it for myself, whether they get anything out of it or not.
I get a chance to hear the language and especially the dialog, where it works and where it clunks. Where I go on too long, where details of description seem superfluous, where I find myself wanting to skip ahead because that sentence that seemed so important--and so well-crafted--doesn't add anything and I didn't see that before.
I enjoyed getting feedback from my listeners and one had a couple of great ideas, but even more important was my own sense of the writing and the story. I also felt fully re-engaged in the whole process and eager to get back to work on it.
As a professional editor, I've encouraged my clients to do just what I was doing--reading aloud--but I hadn't fully grasped the importance of it for myself until today.