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Permission to Pause in Your Writing

In this blog post, we’ll cover permission to pause in your writing, not just from the perspective of having a “maybe pile” but for everyone committed to projects—especially if you’re knee-deep in your book proposal or manuscript.

Permission to Pause in Your Writing

I work with authors every day, and if there’s one piece of advice I can offer, it’s this: give yourself permission to pause in your writing. 

While it may sound counterintuitive to stop writing when publishing a book is a big goal, pausing can be the best thing you can do for yourself and your book. 

I got the idea for this post during a recent conversation with a dear friend. 

We were working together on something, and when I checked in on her progress, her response caught me off guard.

She said, “Right now, I have it in the ‘maybe pile.’” 

Now, if you know me, I’m not the “maybe” type. I’m the one who jumps into “yes” mode and takes charge.

But her wise words resonated deeply because it’s the exact advice I offer my book proposal clients and students when they’ve hit a wall.

In this blog post, we’ll cover permission to pause in your writing, not just from the perspective of having a “maybe pile” but for everyone committed to projects—especially if you’re knee-deep in your book proposal or manuscript.

Let’s get into it. 


Why We Need Permission to Pause in Writing

Life has a funny way of happening, doesn’t it?

There are illnesses, vacations, kids out of school, jobs, family obligations, world events … the list goes on.

When life interrupts our well-laid plans, we feel like we’ve failed if we take a moment away from our goals.

I’ve been thinking a lot about where this need for permission to pause is rooted, and it got me thinking about children. 

Most of us were rewarded for perfect attendance in school. It didn’t matter whether we were sick, suffering through personal issues or if tragedy struck; we were expected to show up no matter what.

It’s a terrible way to treat children, isn’t it? To disregard how they feel physically and emotionally and demand their presence? 

But those childhood experiences become ingrained in us, especially in ambitious go-getters with multiple projects, like a book, on our plates.

I regularly receive emails from clients apologizing for needing to take a break and step away from their writing projects because they feel like they’re doing something wrong. 

Here’s the truth: if you need to take a break, you’re not doing anything wrong. 

In fact, taking a break is often the very best thing for your writing and in the next section, we’ll get into the benefits of why.  

The Benefits of Pausing

While it may feel counterintuitive to put your writing aside for a while, it can actually bring about several significant benefits:

Clarity and Fresh Perspective: When you revisit your writing after a pause, you’re better equipped to identify errors, inconsistencies, or areas that need improvement that you might have missed in the heat of writing.

Enhanced Creativity: A break from writing can stimulate your creativity. During this downtime, you might develop new ideas, innovative solutions to plot problems, or unique angles for your content.

Reduced Writer’s Block: Pausing allows you to recharge and reignite your creativity, making it easier to overcome writer’s block when you return to your work.

Improved Editing and Revision: Editing and revisions are essential parts of the writing process. Taking a break allows you to edit and revise more effectively because you can approach your work more critically and objectively.

Mental and Emotional Well-being: Writing can be emotionally taxing, especially when working on challenging or personal subjects. Taking breaks prevents burnout and ensures you prioritize your mental health (source).

Better Time Management: Pausing helps you manage your time more efficiently. By permitting yourself to pause, you can schedule breaks to align with other life commitments, making balancing writing with other responsibilities easier.

Enhanced Productivity: Surprisingly, taking breaks can increase overall productivity. Short breaks can prevent mental fatigue and maintain focus during writing sessions, leading to more efficient and productive work (source).

Quality Over Quantity: Taking it slow encourages you to prioritize quality over quantity, as rushing through a project to meet a deadline can result in sub-par writing.

In addition to the above, writing can and should be cathartic. 


The Cathartic Process of Writing

I recently talked to a book editor and writing coach, Janna Hockenjos, on my Bound + Determined podcast.

Like me, Janna is in the thick of it with authors daily. When asked about her approach to coaching them during challenging moments, she responded, ‘It’s simply a book.’

And she’s right— while a book can feel like EVERYTHING because you’ve invested so much in it, pushing yourself despite what’s happening in your life is not the best course of action.

Because here’s what’s also true: writing isn’t just about productivity and deadlines; it can also be about catharsis. 

No matter what kind of writing you’re doing, whether prescriptive nonfiction, a memoir, fiction, or anything else, there’s an emotional connection to your work. 

You have to write through that connection and be okay with the imperfections that come with authenticity.

When you embrace your writing process and give it the time and space it deserves, you’ll experience intense moments along the way. It’s all part of the journey; feeling those emotions is okay.

Of course, that’s easier said than done! 

That’s why I recommend authors seek out the trusted support of experts to help them move through those sticky seasons.

Amen to that.


Permission to Pause in Your Writing Granted

If you’ve hit a wall in your book proposal or manuscript, it might mean you need to give yourself permission to pause.

Your mental and physical well-being should always come before any book, job, or client. 

So, take a moment to check in with yourself, and if a break is what you need, take it without guilt, shame, or self-doubt. 

As Janna said in our conversation, “You can do hard things. You’ll enjoy the moments, even the tough ones, a lot more when you embrace the idea that there’s no one right way to write.”

So, take writing breaks when needed, and don’t let self-talk or self-doubt drive your decisions. 

Life is full of unexpected interruptions, and the writing process is not linear. 

Your writing journey is uniquely yours, and there’s beauty in every step, even the pauses along the way.

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