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Stop Writing! – A tip from Arvon Chair, Jeremy Treglown

This tip was written by Arvon’s Chair, Jeremy Treglown.

Creativity flourishes on stimulation, exercise, hard work, but it also needs rest. In fact it’s often busiest when we’re bothering least about it. Like a dog let off its lead, imagination tears around in the undergrowth while its owner stands aside, a bit bored.

One way of letting your thoughts free is to stop writing at a regular point each day whether or not the work’s going well – in fact especially when it’s going well. Many fiction writers have found that this works and I know from experience that it can be helpful with ‘literary non-fiction’, too. Decide whether the stopping point will be when you’ve done so many words or lines or hours or minutes. When you reach it, even if you’re in mid-phrase, just stop. Leave the next bit until tomorrow. When you sit down to your writing again you’ll see it in a new way.

Luxurious-sounding, sure. What if, just when you think you’re getting going, the kids come home from school? And the lease on your flat is about to end, the income-tax form is waiting to be filled in and when you phone your old dad he can’t remember who you are?

All those things have to be dealt with, each is a priority – but so is your writing. You already know you must make regular time for your work however you can: getting up very early in the morning, not having lunch with friends, organizing child-minders and dad-minders, cutting out the evening drinks so you can write late – whatever. But even if you only have an hour or two a day, and even though putting words on the screen or the page is ultimately what those hours are for, stop writing before your time is up. Look around, let the dog off the lead.

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How to stop writing – An exercise from Arvon Chair, Jeremy Treglown

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