Knowing When to Stop

Over the course of the last month, while working on a revision, I was reminded how knowing when to stop is something that helps me to keep going as a writer.

Tip # 10:  Knowing When to Stop

Many writers will agree, getting started can be the biggest hurdle in front of you each day, but once you manage to get going, the work tends to keep going. So how can you make the getting started part easier for your students?

For me, knowing when to stop in my writing is something that helps me start up again the next day. I might stop:

  • When I have the next scene I intend to write completely outlined.
  • After I’ve worked on a scene and have it figured out, but before I have it completely written.  My next day’s work will start with finishing that scene. (This strategy works well for me.)
  • After I’ve shared my writing with someone and have feedback to help me with my next day’s revising.
  • After I have a new chapter written and I know the next day’s task will be rereading it. (See Teaching Tip #1 for more specifics on revising and rereading.)

I encourage you to talk to your students about this way of thinking. Writers don’t just plan the piece, but we’re careful planners about the process, too.  We have plans for what we’re going to do as writers and in our writing on a daily basis. It might not be practical to allow your students to choose when to stop writing each day—that might be hard to manage—however, you can definitely have them start thinking ahead as writers.  With the last ten minutes of writing time, ask your students to start thinking about what they will be doing tomorrow.  Have them make plans.  If desired, you can have them write their plans down and maybe even share with the rest of the class—because every opportunity we give our students to talk like writers is valuable (see Teaching Tip #9).

Happy Writing!

I’d love to hear from you if you find Mr. Terupt’s tips helpful or if you have additional thoughts or questions.  You can email me at and visit me at  Follow me on twitter @robbuyea.  Look for tip #11 to be posted on Monday, May 9th.