When You Need to Stop Writing for a While

By Bhalachandra Sahaj

tired writerAt present, I feel better after taking a break from writing. Although writing is one of the things I love doing, sometimes I need to take a rest from it. Unlike some authors I know, I do not believe a writer should be writing all the time. If you do, most likely your brain will explode, or your writing will degrade into flat and mechanical scribble.

Therefore, it is important to prevent such degradation, and take a break to let off stream, so to say. Below are some of the signs of why (and when) you should consider putting your writing aside and relax.

1. Perhaps the best effect of taking a break is being able to take a look at your writing from a different perspective. If you have ever watched an artist working on his or her painting, you have probably noticed that at some point, he or she takes a few steps away from the painting. This is needed to evaluate proportions, color schemes, composition, and so on, which is hard to do from a close distance. Writing is like this as well: to evaluate it appropriately, you need to stop working on a piece of writing for a couple of weeks, or even months; after you reread your manuscript, it will be easier to notice flaws.

2. A break from writing can sometimes mean a break from writing something particular. During this break, you can switch to another writing project.

3. A break is necessary when you feel like bashing your head against the wall every time you try to write a single line—I am talking about writer’s block. Every now and then, all of us feel like they cannot write: thoughts flounder, phrases sound artificial and forced out, and when you finally finish a paragraph, you want to delete it. It won’t get better on its own, trust me: walk outside for a while, wait until you recover, and then return to writing.

4. A writing break can be used to recollect your strength (metaphorically), accumulate new ideas, revise what has already been written, check your writing for inconsistencies, flaws, and logical mistakes, and so on. When you are not busy with writing, your brain can switch its extra resources to generating ideas—note them down carefully; a writing break is the time when you need a notepad most of all.

5. It is important to remember that there is such a thing as the Ugly Middle. When you start writing, it seems like you fly towards the happy end of your novel (or whatever you are working on). However, as the story/article/academic paper gathers momentum, this progress stops being evident. At this point, you may start thinking your writing sucks, that you are never going to finish your novel, or that you have lost your main idea, and so on. As your inspiration gradually decreases, your writing can objectively become bad as well. This is normal—the first draft of everything is always like this. It is important to be persistent and write further; the Ugly Middle is not the point where you should stop writing.

I hope this advice helps you treat your writing with a sense of relaxation. Enjoy!


  1. Erin Feldman says:

    Thank you for the link!

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