Cover Photo: A statue of a tug of war

When Do You Stop Writing?

Let’s give answering this difficult question a shot.

This is Thank You for Asking, a column by Cinelle Barnes responding to writing questions asked at workshops, on panels, and in DMs.

loathe baneHate this job. Well why don’t you give me another try?


How do you know when to stop writing?How do you know when to stop Writing?

Monsoon Mansion


In my experienceit’s better to not give it all in one sitting . . . so that I can give something the next time I sit down.

Monsoon Mansion

The things I do to pay off student loansWelcome to class, everyone!

We are not sharing our family histories with each other. We are mainly talking about storytelling and revision techniques.

Thank you for asking. Do you mind expounding?

Thank you for what you’ve shared thus far. What I’m hearing you ask is how do you know when to stop Writing when the story might shake the order of things in your family?

AhMonsoon Mansionafter


If Ross feels it, we all feel it!

I grew up kind of broke. I was taught to hustle . . . there’s something ravenous that I notice if I don’t do that [capitalistic] thing. It feels like it comes from a feeling of deprivation, a feeling of fear that I think we’re supposed to feel. I don’t mean we’re supposed to as souls. I think we’re “supposed to” as creatures who are constantly being told that we’re not enough. We’re supposed to . . . do more and do more and compete and do the best and win.

But how do we stop? But how? But who?


lovesMonsoon MansionMalaya: Essays on Freedom

Stop right now. Thank you very much. . . . Hey, you, always on the run. Gotta slow it down, baby. Gotta have some fun.

Cinelle Barnes is a memoirist, essayist, and educator from Manila, Philippines, and is the author of Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir and Malaya: Essays on Freedom, and the editor of A Measure of Belonging: 21 Writers of Color on the New American South. Her work has appeared or been featured in the New York Times, Longreads, Garden & Gun, Electric Literature, Buzzfeed, Catapult, Literary Hub, and CNN Philippines, and has received support from the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund, the Focus Fellowship, and the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. She's a contributing editor at Catapult.