At the end of the day, I can’t help hoping for something to show for my work. At least a couple of pages!
I feel great when I finish a chapter, or write a long scene. But there are days when I do more thinking than writing, and I have little to show for my effort. It’s taken me time to realize that thinking is a huge and unsung part of writing. Thinking through a story, working out a problem in a novel. This takes time away from the page.
Sometimes as you write, you’ll come up with a solution to a problem, or find the direction you are looking for. I’ve found, however, that it’s dangerous to expect yourself to figure out everything on the fly. It’s stressful to figure out a plot while writing. A bit like parachuting out of an airplane and trying to plan a party on the way down.
If you’re writing a long and complicated book, it’s particularly dangerous to try to think and write all at once. You might find yourself freezing up altogether. The imagination can go on strike, you know!
To avoid this problem, I stop writing periodically to spend time thinking and planning. I write pages of notes. I draw up charts with lots of arrows. I try to think things through. I prepare for a chapter as I might prepare for a speech–allowing for improvisation, but putting together scads of notes. After a day or two, I start getting impatient. My imagination gets ready to run again.
How much planning do you do?