Games Writers Play #25: Stop When You’re On a Roll

Scott William Carter   July 6, 2010  

“I never come back to a blank page; I always finish about halfway through. Hemingway taught me the finest trick : ‘When you are going good, stop writing.’ You don’t go on writing and writing until you come to the end of it, because when you do, then you say, well, where am I going to go next? You make yourself stop and you walk away. And you can’t wait to get back because you know what you want to say next.” — Roald Dahl

No matter how productive you are as a writer, it’s doubtful you can write all the time.   At some point, you’ve got to call it a day, even if it’s just to catch a few hours of sleep.  The question is, where do you stop?  What’s the best way to quit so that you have the easiest time starting again the next time you sit down to string some words together?

Easy:  Stop when you’re on a roll.

In other words, stop when the words are flowing, when you know where the story’s going, when you can vividly see the road ahead.  It’s much easier to get those creative juices flowing if you’re not staring at a blank white page.  I sometimes even stop in the middle of a sentence.

This is actually harder to do than it seems, because when you’re in one of those creative fugue states, you don’t want to quit, but that’s actually the reason why you should.  You’re quitting the writing session in a positive mental state and with plenty of momentum.

Note:  Now that I’m on a bit of a roll myself, I’m going to be taking a break from the Games Writers Play series.  I’ll likely pick it up again at some point, but I want to focus 100% of my creative energy on the new novel.  Thanks to everyone for reading, and an especially big thank you to those who donated!


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