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Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

Time Out! How Taking Breaks Can Improve Your Writing

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, Aug 27, 2013 @ 11:56 AM

describe the imageBy Lynda McDaniel, Your Write with Confidence Coach

Lynda will be teaching a two-part webinar on Sept. 10 & 17, How to write attention-grabbing, brand-building blogs, articles, and social media. Click here to register for the sessions.

She'll also be presenting at our FREE Lunch & Learn Webinar on Sept. 12 at noon PT: Unleash Your Inner Storyteller for Business Writing. Register now for the complimentary session!

“Take breaks” ranks high on my list of favorite writing tips. It’s an excellent example of “accomplishing more with less” and can boost the results you get from your writing.

Sound too good to be true? Let me share a real-life example.

TimeOut People OnTheGoI was writing an article about Jeffery Robinson, a lawyer whose career was shaped by the Civil Rights Movement. He is kind, courteous, and caring, and I wanted to do him justice. That said, I also was eager to cross this assignment off my to-do list. I put the final touches on the article and asked a colleague to review it. She came back with the dreaded words, “You’re not done.”

She was right. I found several areas that needed to be stronger, including this prosaic phrase: “Robinson has amassed an impressive list of awards.” (No wonder she said I wasn’t done!) I tried many approaches, but I was still stumped. I gave up and took a nap. When I awoke 15 minutes later, this phrase popped into my head: “If awards were legal tender, Robinson could forget about billable hours.”

Where did that come from? According to William Zinsser, author of, On Writing Well, my brain had been working on this problem while I napped. He writes: “Your subconscious mind does more writing than you think... While you slept, your writer’s mind didn’t. To some extent, a writer is always working.”

That’s just how our brain is wired, and we need to give it time to work for us. Maybe you go to lunch or work on a different project, or, if you’re lucky, take a nap. Everyone complains about not having enough time to write well, but how are we spending the time we do have? Breaks are as vital to your writing as your choice of words and punctuation.

Most of us never learned the writing process and how it works. Like my scratch-it-off-the-list mentality, we just want to get our writing done as fast as possible. But attention-getting writing doesn’t happen that way. Sure, get your first draft done fast, but then spend time editing, taking breaks, and editing again. Who knows what will pop out of that marvelous brain of yours?

Join Lynda at her next webinar on Sept. 10 & 17, How to write attention-grabbing, brand-building blogs, articles, and social media. And don't forget to register for the free webinar on 9/12: Unleash Your Inner Storyteller for Business Writing. You can also watch her interview on WriterSpeak, below, for additional writing inspiration, tips, and more.

Additional Resources & Webinars

Topics: business writing, time management tips, webinars