Have you ever made so much progress on your writing that you find your mind starting to wander? You’ve been writing for a couple of hours, and your character is suddenly doing things he or she would never do before? Your story is morphing into something completely different, and yet your mind feels numb and foggy?
Many writers will disagree with me when I say that writing too much in one sitting is bad for you, but I know how I get when I try to write for too many hours straight. My brain begins to fog up, and my thoughts slow down. I get so bogged down in the little details that I forget about the big picture of the overall story, and the story line begins to wander.
To make things even worse, the quality of my writing begins to drop. I start to use the hated adverb, or I go with the passive tense just because I can’t think of a better way to write “He was using the bathroom in his pajamas”.
And I’m not just talking about my fiction writing either. When I write content for too many hours, my brain begins to go numb and I find myself repeating the same lines over and over. I just can’t think of why avocadoes are so great for my health, or why one home security company is better than another.
For writers who feel like I do after so many hours of work, it’s time to take a break. Break your writing up into a few chunks, and spread them out through your day or week. I find that writing 1,000 or so words per day helps me to focus on the quality of my fiction writing, and I still make good progress. On the days that I sit down to actually get a lot of writing done, I’ve been working on my WIP all week and thus know where the story is going, but without spending too many hours on it all at once.
Of course, some writers will LOVE being able to sit and write for a dozen straight hours. If you are one of those writers–I am not–then you’ve got your work cut out for you. However, don’t be surprised if by Hour 3 or 4 you find the quality of your writing slipping a bit. It’s just the way the human mind works, so it may be worth taking a break or doing something else for an hour to give your brain a break. Once you come back to the project, you may just find that your thoughts are clearer.