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 haven’t been on WordPress for a while but I’m sure glad I came back. This post made me reflect on some of my writing habits. I think a part of me gets nervous when I step away from a piece for more than a few hours, for a number of reasons.

    I feel less productive, for one thing, but I also feel like I’m missing out on ideas I could be brainstorming right in this very moment. It’s like there’s a time limit throughout the day, and the sooner I get those ideas out to a publisher, the sooner I can claim them as my own.

    But I do notice that the weeks I have to take a couple days off the keyboard, are the ones my mind feels the most clear. I come up with plot points more easily during those periods. Sometimes you just need a break! This really resonated with me.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hello there Angie! I am also so glad that you popped back on WordPress. I’m also delighted that you found some comfort and encouragement from this post. Distance can definitely assist with clarity and easier thought-processing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I definitely did- and yes. While the hardest part is separating yourself from that work, it pays off to give yourself a break once in a while. It actually helps me to focus better on my writing, because I feel like I’ve given myself enough rest so I need to work to make up for it. Versus when I write without end, I feel drained out and my body keeps nagging at me to push tasks off or think about something else.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooft, I needed to read that! I’ve finished my first novel draft and I keep going back and agonising over stupid things like eventually versus finally. I can’t see the wood for the trees anymore! Thanks for this advice 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thanks for posting! I get a little overwhelmed sometimes because I have a memory condition. I’m so afraid that, if I walk away, I’ll forget everything. Sure enough, when I do come back, I start to make an edit I’ve already made. Then again, that can be a gift, if I want to make the same adjustment more than once, it probably needed to happen.

    Liked by 2 people

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