When to stop writing for the day

Generally speaking, I don’t do any writing after five PM. That’s a rule mostly for my own sanity. I don’t want to spend every hour feeling like I really ought to be writing. And, let’s face it, writing is not a very time-consuming activity. The number of writers who do more than two hours a day at the keyboard is shockingly small, and even those two hours can sometimes be too much. If I have no idea what I’m doing, it’s better to do no writing rather than spend two hours banging on the keyboard without producing anything worthwhile.

But every day I do face the task of determining a proper stopping point. This is actually a somewhat rarefied problem, since most of the time I’m blocked and unable to write. So there’s a natural tendency, on good writing days, to keep on typing. After all, when the inspiration is really flowing, I can write two thousand words in under two hours. If I kept going at that rate, entire novels could be written in ten days (this is something I once did, although the novel didn’t sell).

Still, after two thousand words I usually think it’s better to knock off for the day (on fiction writing that is. Paid freelance work is something different). I can’t quite explain the thinking here. At the time it always feels like laziness, but I usually find that a day or two of thinking about the book makes me realize that my intended direction wasn’t quite right. Oftentimes a pause gives me the time to consider the draft and save myself from trouble.

One thought on “When to stop writing for the day

  1. Hannah

    Thanks for sharing, Rahul–and for the reminders that space is essential, and that it’s ok (nay, important) to set boundaries for even those things we are and love.

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