How To Separate Yourself From Your Writing

By on September 22, 2017
How To Separate Yourself From Your Writing - Writer's

When writing a novel, it can be all too easy to lose yourself in your work. While it’s good to feel committed and passionate about your writing, it is also good to know how to get some distance.

Separating yourself from your writing is beneficial for many different reasons. If you can take a step back, you can observe your work objectively which will help you create a better story. You’ll be able to take criticism better rather than feeling it is a personal insult to you, and you may be able to come up for air and remember to have a life outside your writing too!

However, when you are in the middle of writing or editing your book, it can be difficult to find ways to distance yourself from it. Often writers become so immersed in their stories it feels as though they are part of them and it can become increasingly difficult to pause, to critique one's own work effectively, and not to feel dangerously attached to it.

So what are some of the methods we can use to gain some distance from our work to help ourselves observe it from a more objective standpoint?

Have more than one project on the go at the same time

While we may want to commit all our writing time to writing our novel, having other writing projects on the go can be helpful. If you pour all your energy into just one thing it is easy to become too involved in it. Take some time to write a blog or a short story or a poem - whatever you like, just have other things on the go too - that way you’ll naturally take breaks from your novel and won’t be putting all your energy, hopes and dreams into just one thing.

Be open to new ideas, read and learn as much as you can

It’s important for writers to keep learning throughout the writing process, and always stay open to new ideas and suggestions, even when it comes to your book. It’s never too late to change or improve your book, so always keep your eyes and ears open. Let yourself be influenced, experiment with new techniques and keep on learning. Your book will be all the better for it.

Take a break

Of course, one of the easiest and most effective ways to gain some distance from your writing is to take a break from it for a while. Give yourself a week or two where you don’t look or think about your book, then come back to it. You may be surprised at how simply giving yourself time away can give you a fresh perspective and highlight places where you perhaps need to do more work.

Don’t base characters entirely on one person

While we cannot help but use our life experiences, our emotions the things we see and do, and the people we meet to influence our stories, creating characters that are complete imitations of someone we know in real life can make it difficult to treat these characters objectively. Whether we love or hate the people, we meet in real life that we want to fictionalise in our stories, we still need to ensure that our own emotions about them don’t get in the way of creating a brilliant piece of work.

Open yourself up to criticism at every stage

If you wait until your book is finished before you ask for someone to critique it, you will have already invested so much time and energy into it that hearing any negative feedback will be a lot harder to take. Try to get feedback continually while you are writing your novel, this way you will be more used to it, but also will be improving your book as you go so editing won’t feel like such a mammoth task when you do finish that final chapter.

We all know how personal and time consuming writing can be, and feeling completely at one with your writing, falling in love with your characters and feeling proud and protective of your story just demonstrates how much you adore what you do. However, there are times where separating yourself from your writing can benefit both it and you, so if you do feel you need to gain some distance try the methods above and see how they work for you.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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