We writers spend a lot of time planning. Well, this writer does. Even though I know that the way I work best is to dive in and write, I still do some prep work. (And I totally believe in it, within limits.)
But sometimes I get so wrapped up in planning and writing that I forget about thinking. Good old-fashioned thinking. Giving yourself time and space to just think. Yes, often the magic comes in the writing. But sometimes it also comes in the thinking.
At the moment, I’m working on a “brief polish” (hahahahaha, read: rewrite) of my novel for my agent. I’ve got a few things to change. Really, nothing big. Just figuring out how to get some twists and turns in. (Again, nothing big? Hahahaha.) I’m going back through and writing a sentence outline, wherein I skim through the manuscript and note what happens in every scene, so that I have a reference point.
I need to get this rewrite done in a couple weeks. But it is hot. And I went out to lunch with a friend and we talked writing. (That counts as working, right?) And when I got home, it was, guess what, hot. And there were people to chat with and dishes to do. (See, even I, as a writing coach who helps people find time to write, fall prey to such distractions.)
But, this morning I meditated. (I am a ridiculously obnoxious cheerleader for meditation.) And I had an idea for my rewrite. (A brilliant one, if I do say so myself.) And as I was farting around on the internet, I suddenly remembered it. I sat and thought about it for a few minutes. And then grabbed my notebook and started writing notes as fast as I could.
I think I have my twists and turns nailed, or close to. But here’s the deal: to the casual observer, it didn’t look like I was doing any work at all. I went to lunch with a friend, came home and did dishes, and then cruised around the internet. But there was thinking time in all of that. And that’s what allowed the breakthrough thought to occur.
So, don’t underestimate thinking time. THIS DOES NOT GIVE YOU AND EXCUSE TO NOT WRITE. But guard don’t underestimate thinking time. Best thinking places for me are in meditation (though I’m not actively thinking, but really great thoughts come through), in the shower, walking, and driving. I used to always, always, always have music or something on in the car. But now I just enjoy the silence.
If your spouse catches you staring off into space and has the audacity to think you’re not working, you can set him straight post haste.
Thinking time. It is vital for your writing practice. Give yourself time and space for it.
Charlotte Rains Dixon is the author of the novel Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior (Vagabondage Press, February 2013), and articles published in magazines such as Vogue Knitting, The Oregonian and Pology, to name only a few, and her short fiction has been published in Somerset Studios, The Trunk and the Santa Fe Writer’s Project. She earned her MFA in creative writing at Spalding University in 2003, and has been teaching and coaching writers ever since, both privately and as an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University’s Write program. She’s been blogging about writing, creativity, and motivation at charlotterainsdixon.com since 2007. She is repped by Erin Niumata at FolioLiterary. Visit her website at charlotterainsdixon.com and her travel site at letsgowrite.com.