Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Writing Stage 3: that all important pause

It might seem artificial to create a stage named pause. You could say that when you reach the end of writing you stop and then move on to looking back at your writing.

Based on my experience I’d like you to consider inserting this Pause stage into your writing process. I don’t know what you’re writing but if the piece is longer than a few pages you could be faced with revising or checking a complex layout, dense text and other people’s views.

At this point you need to put some distance between you and the words.  Here are some ways you can make the most of this stage.

Take the time out to do something unconnected with your writing
Mental exhaustion is a common result of intensive writing. You’re written out, wrung out maybe depending on what you’ve written about. Setting aside your work gives you the chance to revive. I know that when I’ve finished a long piece I can’t bear to look at it for a few days. I have no more ideas to add to it.

Check your physical state.
Have you ever finished a piece of writing, got up from the computer and almost stumbled. Although we know that it makes sense to time ourselves when working at a laptop or desk, it’s all too easy to become so involved that we forget to eat, take rest or any of the things that we need.

Now's the time to do whatever helps you restore your physical get up and go. Take a shower, hit the gym, go for a walk or run. All of those things will help to break down the stress chemicals that have built up in your body as you raced towards your deadlines.

Slumping in a chair at this point won’t be helpful. You’ll end up feeling more tired and drained. So get active in whatever way you enjoy.

Get creative
What activity so absorbs you that you forget time and place?  Apart from writing I mean.

Now’s the time to indulge yourself and listen to music, paint, garden or whatever activity you enjoy that isn’t related to work.

What’s the purpose of this?

It’s to start those ideas again brewing in your brain. Without you being aware of it you’ll kickstart your enthusiasm to look at the writing with fresh eyes... and ideas.

Trust your unconscious to help you out here. If you’ve been clear of your intentions for the writing, and you’ve allowed yourself free rein in the writing, then that’s fertile ground for your unconscious mind to start sorting. When you sit down to edit, all kinds of connections will come to you that you can add in to your piece and strengthen it.

And stop feeling guilty taking this time out. See it as a separate stage in your writing process and then you can justify it to anyone who thinks that you’re only taking time off.

This post is based on the section in The Writer's Little Book... with Big Ideas.  For more information about the book go to

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