One piece of advice that writers hear again and again is to write as much as possible.
It’s good advice, but there are times when not writing can be considered working.
After some recent feedback on my novel, I decided to rewrite some of the story, but from the perspective of a different character. I know which parts of the story I want him to tell, but I’m not quite ready to start writing.
Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this new direction, allowing the ideas to grow and strengthen in my mind before I attempt to put them on paper. It’s not quite planning, but it’s necessary if I’m going to write these new sections of the book without floundering around, directionless.
And it’s not just this occasion. I often find myself opening up my laptop with the intention of writing, but instead fooling around on the internet or playing endless games of Minesweeper. It’s not that I’m lazy, well, not always.
Sometimes I feel blocked, or the words just won’t come. Rather than forcing myself to write something terrible, I prefer to take a step back and let my subconscious work on the problem. That way, the next time I sit down to write, it’s easy to get started.
Allowing myself the time and space to think about how my story needs to progress is all part of my writing process, although I didn’t always realise it.
I’d often beat myself up on the days I didn’t manage to write anything, feeling like I had failed to be productive.
But writing doesn’t always have to be about writing. An idea or a character’s voice needs space to grow. If that means letting your mind take some idle time, then that’s okay too.