Non-Writing Writing

I’ve read a lot of social media posts by and about writers and their angst with the process. Many don’t think they’re actually writing if they’re not actively typing or putting words to paper. They lament the fact that they only wrote (insert a number here) words within a certain timeframe. Some exceeded their goal while others fell short (by their own estimation). I’d like to challenge the myth that writing is that one-dimensional, one setting pursuit.


There are times in my process of writing a story that I don’t know what is going to happen next. Instead of tearing at whatever hair I have left and gnashing my teeth in front of the computer screen, I get up and take a break. I didn’t say I stopped writing. If someone were to see me sitting outside on the patio staring at nothing, they’d be mistaken. My vision might be fixed or random-looking, but my mind is probably exploring the next step in the plot of my story. Along the way, I might discover a detail that would not have presented itself if I’d remained in front of my computer, lamenting my lack of progress. The solutions always find me when I take breaks like these.

Emotional Distancing

Some scenes are emotionally taxing to write. After writing a scene that drains me emotionally, I need to get away from it, physically and emotionally. I might do something totally unrelated, like take a walk, garden, or bake. But you can bet that I’m still digesting that scene, even from a distance. I might be trying out different scenarios related to how the character is coping or what his/her next action might be. While I pull weeds or knead dough, I am removed just enough from what happened in my story to look at it from a different perspective or figure out a way to help them get a grip and move forward.

Analyze the Plot

When I step away, I allow my mind to review what I’ve written and edit it in a relaxed manner. I might realize that I inserted the wrong character’s name in a conversation or stated their hazel eyes were blue. I might discover that what I thought was a brilliant plot point is totally incompatible with my character’s personality or where the story needs to go. If you are purposely having your character do something out of character, you need to address it down the road or your readers will call you out. By stepping away and analyzing the scene, you’ll be doing yourself and your readers a favor in the long run.

Bottom Line? Writing is a multi-faceted endeavor that can occur wherever you and your brain happen to be. Sure, the story needs to manifest itself in its final format by means of typing, writing, or somehow getting thoughts to paper/screen for your readers to devour and savor. But the beauty of writing is that it can happen anywhere you want it to.

Image credit: Pixabay

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