I think I spent close to two of the three hours I spent writing today staring at the screen. It was productive staring but it was still staring.
I’m sure every writer has a word for it or does it in their own way but the way that I refer to it is Constructing (plot outline or earlier), or Reconstructing (post plot outline). Imagine a 3D diagram building above your head and in that diagram is everything that you need to jump into writing. Characters and their relations to each other, where each falls into the plot, who is responsible for what. The connection between ideas, people, and places. Sometimes there’s more like the emotions of the characters at specific pivotal points, or dialogue, or other parts important to the story.
Constructing takes about ten times longer than Reconstructing, obviously, because I am coming up with new ideas, new connections, and new landscapes. So while today was spent mostly constructing–the plot of book 2 is being an absolute bear and I’ve had to go back to the drawing board–I did get about 1000 words of actual writing done. A great success if I do say so myself.
Constructing is important to my writing process because it helps me get all the essential ideas in the book into the best place in my memory and my mind in order to put it on the page in a seamless way. Not that I always do, but then writing isn’t always that easy. The first time I did this was one of the major breakthroughs of my writing life. I think I must have been around 20 or so and I was sitting in the passenger side of my dad’s car writing on my laptop. That first session I wrote out what would become the groundwork for the Kinetics Handbook (a.k.a the place where I kept all the information about the Kinetic world, its people, etc…). Since then I’ve only had to reference it a couple times or update it for changes but I’ve been able to pull much of what I wrote back in my working memory to work within my world effortlessly.
I generally like to Construct with actual pen and paper or with a dry erase board (this really depends on what stage I’m at) but today I was able to sit in front of the computer and jot down the notes as they came to me. Something about how I’ve trained my brain demands that when I sit in front of a keyboard all my Constructing and Reconstructing is done with and I’m ready to go to get the meaty bits written out. I thought I was but when I sat down to write today the demands on my time were a little different. So while I don’t super like Constructing on the computer, the amount of time I gave myself to write in (approx. 3 hours) was enough to push me past the tough spots in connecting and reshaping the story and plot to fit better.
I’m hoping the writing time I give myself tomorrow will be a great deal more productive in terms of meaty writing.