Non-Writing Writing Time

Well, I told Angela I’d draft at least four days last week. It only ended up being three, but the week was more productive than I’ve seen in awhile. I’m making strides (at 28 weeks pregnant) in focusing and not looking ahead to the future and what it will do to my writing, but it’s still hard to sit down and write. Then I had an epiphany.

One night after I’d gotten up for the *#%@th time to relieve myself, I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I started thinking about my WIP and what was going to happen next. By the time I fell asleep, I had a clear view of what I wanted to accomplish in the next scene. The next morning when it was time to write, I had no trouble sitting down and hammering it out.

That’s when I realized what I’d been doing wrong. Knowing that I’d have less writing time in the future, I’d been trying to streamline my time into smaller chunks, which was a good idea, I think. But in doing so, I’d stopped thinking about my novel in between. Used to be, I’d be thinking about it in the car, in the shower, while I walked—so much that by the time I sat down to write, I was mentally ready to get it all out. When I removed that mental writing from my day, I wasn’t motivated to draft because I wasn’t prepared.

So…whew! Mystery solved. If I can spend some time each night thinking about the next day’s drafting, I should be better prepared to write. How about everyone else? Is the mental part of your writing important, or are you one of those sick people who can just sit down and tap-tap-tap the story out?


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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8 Responses to Non-Writing Writing Time

  1. Donna says:

    For the most part, I sit down to write and let it do its own thing. If something comes up that doesn’t play into the immediate plot, I write it down and save it for later. Sometimes I mull over a story but it’s usually what’s going to happen much further down the road, not what’s next in the story. More often than not I forget what I’ve written until I go back to continue writing to “what comes next” doesn’t really come into play once I leave the page. That’s thanks to a bad memory more than anything, really.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You’re not the only one! I have to think about my writing and where I want my characters to go next before I can sit down and write for long periods of time. If I try to sit and do it on impulse, I can write, but after a few minutes I’m struggling to put down how I’m feeling and what I want to happen next. So keep up the mental writing plan, it works!

  3. courtney says:

    Mental part is important. I’m a pantser, though, so it really isn’t mentally plotting–more like visualizing little scenes in my novel and trying to figure out if I can turn them into words? I try not to get too far ahead of myself or else I feel like the book’s been written and then I don’t want to write it at all. Glad you got your writing mojo back!!

  4. WordWrangler says:

    Hmmm. Interesting to think about. I find that the more I’m staring at the computer and surfing the web, the less inspired and prepared I am to actually write. However, when I’m not working all day on the computer and I have scheduled writing times, I work much better. If I know I only have a certain amount of time to write, my brain is working throughout the day on my stories/poems, etc (even when I don’t realize it!).

    So – when I do sit down, I feel refreshed, inspired and ready to let the fingers fly! 🙂

    I still don’t plot the stories out, but my mind isn’t as clutterd with the other issues at hand (like dirty dishes, clothes, etc). 🙂
    Donna (my kids said I could write for a minute. YAY! and it’s not even my office hours. LOL!)

  5. srgruber says:

    I tend to be a mix of organic and… potted? plotted? but I’m much more productive when I do have that thinking time. Often the thinking time is spent on a hobby, or cleaning the house, or wandering through the neighborhood. But if I don’t do it, the words don’t come.

    I guess that when I sit down to write, I need a direction more than I need a road map, but I don’t get that sense of direction unless I spend some time just mulling things over beforehand.

  6. Becca says:

    Welcome, Marsha!

    Sometimes I wish I was more organic. It seems like it would be simpler to just let the story happen, but when I’ve tried to do that, I either end up staring at the screen for an hour or writing a story that rambles all over the place.

  7. I’m a member of CC and found your blog there. To answer the question about how I plan to write, the answer is: it’s different every time. I love the days when I just sit down and let the words flow from my fingers. Then there are the days when I have to consider which way the story will go while I’m walking, showering, etc.

    I’m more of an organic writer, so I really like to see the story unfold before me.

  8. Angela says:

    See, mental preparing is an interesting topic for me, because I tend to be an organic writer to some extent. So, while I absolutely NEED that thinking time in the shower, before I fall asleep and ten minutes or so before I drag my butt out of bed, I have to be careful I don’t think too much, especially when preparing to start a new book.

    Part of my strength is letting the story take over as I write. So, I can mind plot–thinking, planning, knowing how some scenes will play out, knowing big milestones, how it will end…but I always will get to the point where I know if I continue to form the book in my head, I’ll go too far and hurt myself in the process. That is my cue to start writing. It means I’m finally ready.

    It’s kind of like when a movie is coming to the theatres and you are so excited and impatient you want to log onto the website and watch all the trailers for it. The thing is, you know that if you watch all the ones available, the movie will be spoiled for you to some degree because you’ll know too many good bits in advance.

    That’s how I feel about the mental thinking time, and how much to allow before getting down to the business of writing it.

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