Writing Tips

Writing Tip: STOP Writing

“Stop writing?!”

“But Kayla,” you may ask me, “how can you tell me to stop writing? Shouldn’t we keep writing? After all, we are writers! How can we be writers if we are not writing? How does stopping our writing actually help our writing? Isn’t that contradictory?”

Image result for girl you crazy gif

Now before you turn away from me and shake your head in disgust, hear me out.

I’m not saying that we should stop all writing. I am saying that you should stop working on the project you’re currently working on once you have finished it. For writers there is this huge urge that once we finally finish a project we automatically want to go back through, edit, and send it to a publisher. It’s just not realistic guys. In order for a work to be good you need to utilize the power of distance.

Now some of you may be wondering what the power of distances and others of you might have already heard of it. For those of you who are unfamiliar or need the refresher: The power of distance is, as it sounds, distancing yourself from your work after you have finished it.

Once you have finished a project you set it aside. If it’s on your computer, exit out of the file for a while (I know it’s scary but don’t worry it’ll still be there when you get back to it). If you’re writing in a notebook (hey kudos to you not a lot of people do that anymore),  close the notebook, put in a drawer and leave it alone. Give your work at least a couple of days if not weeks to rest and work on other projects in the meantime. Heck, go outside and see the sun once in a while (you know us writers are vitamin D deficient).

After a few days or a few weeks whatever you can manage, although longer is better, take your work out. The distance that you have given yourself and your writing will now do several things for you:

  • You will no longer be wrapped in the euphoria of finishing your project. As such, you will be able to remove your rose-colored glasses and look at your work for what it is: beautiful, but in serious need of some editing.
  • Due to the above, you will also be more willing to do what needs to be done, even if this means cutting out whole sections or chapters of your work.
  • You will gain a new and fresh perspective. I’m sure many of you college students out there know the feeling of turning in a paper, believing it to be 100% free of errors only to have it returned to you with red marks and think to yourself, “How did I miss that?” Do you know that when we read the same thing over and over, our brain will automatically fill in the gaps because it knows where we are going? That is why students often miss entire words in their essays, because their brain automatically assumes the words are there. By placing distance between your work and yourself, you give your brain a chance to restart and give your eyes a fresh chance to look at your material (making it easier to spot mistakes).

Try for yourself guys and let me know how it goes! Once you do finish a project and utilize the power of distance I encourage you to NOT EDIT, but rather, to Rewrite Instead.

Happy Writing Everyone!


106 thoughts on “Writing Tip: STOP Writing”

  1. I think I’ve stopped writing as a way for me to re-energize myself. So much so that I haven’t been writing much at all. It’s taken me over two months to write 1,000 words for one story. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. Haha. I think I just need to plan ahead better.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ha, yes you have experienced the difficulty of treading the thin line between overloading yourself with writing and stopping for too long. Sometimes when you stop to re-energize yourself it is helpful to set a re-entry date. Give yourself a week, then set aside a time to engage your writing again. If it’s too soon, set another week break, if it’s still too soon, set three days, if it’s still too soon still trying to sit and write for as long as you can to discover if it really too soon or just writer’s block.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there Christa! Thank you for stopping by my blog. I’ll be honest, I do not know enough about Stephen King as I really should, but it does not surprise me that he puts aside his work. Distance works wonders for my writing every time.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I feel the same way. Think whatever you want about his writing, he’s an icon, a brand of his own, and has managed to sell some of the weirdest book premises to massive audiences.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Ann Malley and commented:
    Ready, get set, STOP WRITING!

    No, seriously. If you want to write well, check out this must read by short story novelist and reading enthusiast Kayla Ann. Published and well on her way to holding a Masters in English/Creative writing, she gets the impulse to forge on.

    What serious writer doesn’t?

    The MUSE is demanding if nothing else. She can also hide a great many warts that we writers will not see if we rush to get our darlings out the door. Don’t believe me? Read on…and I hope you’ll join me in following Kayla Ann.

    Write on!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hi there! Writing is definitely a different journey for everyone. Some people can write non stop while others need multiple breaks. Neither system is better than the other; but rather depends on personal writing styles.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so blessed to have seen this post. There is this rush as I’m coming to the end of my writing to hurry and post it.
    And from my experience, I’m one of those writers who did just that, only to have to unpublished it later because it was awful.
    I love the fact you said our brain puts words there because it knows how we want it to read.
    Thanks much. I needed this.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hello there Vernon! Thank you so much for stopping by, I’m glad that you found this post helpful! Distance can be so helpful from our work so that our brain stops looking at it with “rose-colored” glasses.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I always think the thing I just finished is the best thing I’ve ever written and then I look back at everything I did before and I’m like, “how did I ever think you were good?!” I’m probably overdoing it a little lol

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for this very important reminder. The only serious publishable piece I’ve written so fore is my dissertation, years ago now. But one basic take away I remember is to “write first” get your content out of your head and onto paper. Then, edit sometime later. My problem now is letting other things get in the way of writing. Something that’s been on my bucket list for double-digit years. I’m returning to it … starting again.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I do this for articles I have written. Once completed, I step back a bit, take a stroll or something, then re-read the article.

    For longer works, though, I find this task necessary, but a bit daunting… How much time would this take?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A short stroll for articles and blog posts would work marvelously! For longer works, it depends! For instance, my upcoming book “The Agency Games” required at least a months distance because I had been working on it for over a year every single day. I needed that time away from it. Other authors find they need more time while others find that a single week is enough.

      Liked by 1 person

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