When to not stop
“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” —Ernest Hemingway
I learned that important lesson some time back, too.
If I stopped my day’s writing on a problem, not knowing what was going to happen next in the plot, or fearing I’d gone off the rails somewhere a few hundred words back, or unsure about when to insert a chapter or scene break, I would discover the next day that I could conjure up any number of feeble excuses for not sitting back down and facing the problem. Sometimes I lost days of writing.
However, if I could possibly arrange to quit for the day while I was on a roll, when I could anticipate what was coming next with a measure of excitement, then the next day I’d be eager to get back to the job refreshed, with no time lost to doubts.
Like other good lessons learned, this soon became habitual. (The principle also works well when applied to everyday chores, like cleaning out the closets or rebuilding a porch.)
This does not mean the writing has gotten any easier.
Here’s another Hemingway observation that applies to my current novel:
“Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” —EH
I’m having to do a great deal of laborious drilling and then blasting. But each writing session, I try to stop just before I get to push that blasting plunger.