Why You Have To Let Your Writing Rest

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” –Alan Cohen

In my last post, I explained how scheduling purposeful time away from writing allows writers to re-energize, reignite their passion, and return to their work with a renewed sense of purpose.

Understanding these reasons for taking intentional breaks enables a writer to recognize that there is equal value in both working and resting.

It’s important to be mindful, however, that a period of cessation from writing doesn’t mean that you completely abandon your work. Instead this deliberate break should be considered an active rest—time for you to generate ideas, organize your thoughts, consider your previous work, and plan for future creative endeavors.

If, as a writer, you incorporate both a time to actively work and actively rest, what does it mean to let your writing rest?

Although the difference between resting as a writer and allowing your writing to rest seems slight, the nuances are significant.

As writers we are often racing against a deadline. Whether set by someone else or self-imposed, the pressure to meet a predetermined target often causes many writers to race to fill a certain page amount. The problem with focusing on filling reams of paper is that our shortsighted motivation often affects the quality of our writing.

All writers work under the constraint of either volume or time. Novelist must produce a substantial amount of writing in order to complete a book. Whereas bloggers and reporters often have less to generate, but are bound by time.

Both pressures can create a tunnel vision that causes the true objective to be lost in the near-term target, a problem, which results in the quality of the writing being sacrificed for the quantity and/or fast pace.

So, how does a writer successfully create pages of work and meet deadlines while still maintaining the integrity of the writing?

They have to let the writing rest.

What does this mean? It means that, as a writer, you can still type with the speed of a thousand flying fingers and print out stacks of written pages but before submitting, posting, or publishing, you have to stop.

Take a moment, step away, let your work wait.

Constricted vision shaped by single-focused goals can cause a myopia that prevents you, as a writer, from really seeing your work as it is instead of how you envision it.

Stepping away and letting your writing rest clears your vision. Rereading work that has been allowed to sit dormant for a bit enables you to see the inconsistencies, the contradictions, and the mistakes. Only when we widen our visual scope can we see the texture, context, and meaning that is either embodied or lacking in our work.

Letting our work rest gives us time to rest. And, in that time, we are able to let go of the emotional attachment that blinds us to our mistakes. We come back with fresh eyes and renewed energy to observe our work more objectively and clearly.

Learning the virtue in both work and rest leads you to be not only a productive writer but also a good one.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments.



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About Sherry Parnell