Articles / On Writing

Quick Tips: Knowing When To Step Away


Writing a book is hard work. I know this as an editor and as an author. I have written about a bajillion words (okay, not a bajillion, but many, many hundreds of thousands of words) on my own stories, blog posts, reviews, articles, etc. So it’s safe to say I know the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into every word we as authors put on paper (or a Word doc, if you want to get technical.)

I have talked about self-editing on the blog before and how it can more hamper your work more than progress it. Now only if I would take my own advice. I have been writing a couple of different stories this year but none seem to be flowing like I have wanted them to. I have these great ideas and get super excited to put them down in a doc only to peter out around chapter four and wonder what the heck happened to me. For one, I’m self-editing too much. *slaps my own wrists* And I’m not looking at the big picture of what my story is and wants to be. I get confused and I start thinking too much. What about this? Or that? Is this too much or not enough?

The only answer for me is to take a step away and think about what I really want to write.

Stepping away is not giving up. It’s taking five and reevaluating what you really want out of your work. I’m very determined to finish what I have started, but the break helps me clear my head. It also helps me get over myself. My work is not going to be perfect right off the bat. I know this, but try telling that to my fragile author brain. I’m constantly comparing myself to other people too. Why can’t I write as fast as so and so, or is my stuff as good as theirs? How do they come up with that? Is my writing as smart as other people’s?

You can pull your hair out obsessing over these questions. In the end, all it does is hold you back. Stepping away from what you’re working on is vital if you want it to make it to a finished book. What I like to do is try to write small blurbs based on prompts or pictures to get my juices flowing. Write Divas have prompts every week that you can check out.

So if you are having trouble with your manuscript, the elements of your story aren’t lining up correctly, or the muse has hit that dreaded brick wall, take some time  to think about what you really see coming out of your project. The introspection may be enlightening.


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