There’s More to Writing Than Just Writing

There’s more to writing than just the writing.

Like, staring off into space. Taking a nap to refresh your brain after all its hard toil. Going to the kitchen to look for a snack. Deciding what you really need is to take a walk. Or drink a glass of wine.

Okay, maybe those aren’t the best examples, though they are things we all do when the writing gets the better of us. But the topic of this post is all the productive things besides putting words into the actual manuscript that we writers have to do. (Maybe productive isn’t the right word. Because sometimes a glass of wine is just what the writer needs. Right?)

Such as (in no particular order):

— Figure out plot

— Organize word or Scrivener documents

— Rearrange scenes

— Delve into character backstory

— Make notes

— Free-write about aspects of the story

— The internet research rabbit hole

— Interview people for research

— Freewrite to warm up

— Reread your work

— Ponder how to incorporate comments from readers

(What am I forgetting? I know there is more!)

And that doesn’t even take us into the social media and marketing realm, which is a whole other thing. But my point is this: all these other things are necessary to support your writing. You’ve got to take time for all of them, because otherwise your novel or memoir or story won’t exist. And sometimes it is hard to remember that. Some of that work can feel like busy work. But it is really not.

I think sometimes I writers skimp on some of the other things for that very reason. Because we don’t feel like we are writing unless we are really writing. Or we are so eager to get to the actual writing that we gloss over the importance of prep work (spoken by a writer who has come to accept her pantsing ways)

It often seems as if the entire online writing community is obsessed with word counts. And if everyone and their uncle is posting theirs, you can get a bit over-eager to get to your writing so that you can post yours as well. But word counts can set up a self-destructive cycle. A writer I know sometimes pads her sentences just to reach her word count. (Talking about a friend. Really.)

In a class I recently finished, Becca explained that writing to a word count isn’t the best option for most people, especially NFPs, who often work in a, shall we say, circular fashion. (Instead, she recommends tracking hours. Or minutes.)

But however you are tracking it, just remember: all those other things are important, too. Don’t be so eager to get to the writing, peeps.

This article originally appeared on charlotterainsdixon.com. To sign up for my weekly newsletter, click here.

Novelist, writing teacher, coach. Workshops in France, Portland, and virtually. Sign up for weekly love letters and get a free Ebook: https://tinyurl.com/y9rfp3

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