"The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes." ~ Agatha Christie
If you absolutely can't get to your computer to write today, no worries. You can still make progress on your manuscript. All you need is to take time to ponder.
A published author told her husband she needed to write, then climbed the stairs to her home office, a computer desk tucked into a corner of her bedroom. Fifteen minutes later, the husband interrupted her at work. But instead of finding her typing away as he'd expected, she was laying on the bed.
The husband frowned. "I thought you were writing."
"I am," she said. "Thinking is a huge part of the writing process."
Face it, those of us with day jobs and busy lives long for time in front of the computer or with pen and paper. But once we get that coveted time, we don't always make the best of it because we haven't utilized enough pre-writing time.
Sometimes, we're so anxious to reach our word count, we don't properly plan ahead what we're going to write. I know that happens to me. I've got a home full of kids, and on most days I'd never consider selling them to a roving band of Gypsies. Of course, the opportunity has never actually presented itself, so I've never been tested. But life is often chaotic. Quiet writing time is as rare as leftover birthday cake--you mean, you have leftovers?--so I've got to plan ahead how to make the most of my time.
Some authors intricately plot out their stories before writing the first word. They'll create scene spreadsheets, compose detailed character worksheets, plan every conflict, and decide the story's ending. Other authors, known affectionately as "pantsters" because they write by the seat-of-their-pants, don't know where the story is going or what will happen next until they've written it.
Whether you're a plotter or a pantster or somewhere in between, you're going to spend a lot of time thinking about your stories. Of course, for a pantster that may happen after you've written yourself into a corner. Regardless of your writing style, how can you maximize pondering time, so the hours you're writing will be more productive?
Previous posts here reveal some of the Ponderers are potters, gardeners and knitters. Others walk dogs or run, and (unfortunately) all of us wash dishes from time to time. But busy hands allow our imaginations the chance to run wild, giving free reign to our creativity. So you can do double duty and perform a chore or indulge in a hobby and still count it as writing time, especially if you channel your thinking toward a specific problem or goal with your work in progress (WIP).
- Take time to pray. Ask the Author of life to inspire your writing for His glory.
- Go for a walk or knit or jog or clean house while you ponder.
- When you're running errands, imagine your character having a conversation on this errand, instead of the overused settings like restaurants/coffee shops/kitchens.
- While driving around town, look for surprising, new settings for unique and fun dates.
- Keep a notebook on hand, or when that's not possible . . .
- Carry a voice-activated recorder to remember a couple of key points.
- Before falling asleep at night, consider your next scene and daydream about it. But, again, keep a notebook on your nightstand so you don't forget a brilliant idea.
Remember, sometimes ideas just have to percolate.
What are other ways you've found to maximize your writing time?
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