May 13, 2020

Thinking about writing

Filed under: bloggery — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 7:50 am

I’ve reached the stage in my current novel where instead of ploughing on to the next chapter, I’ve reached one of the thinking bits. The planning document has posed a series of questions about how to handle this chapter – although I know what happens in the next three after it. This means that I find myself in the sunny garden, supervising the cats and thinking about writing.

And, as a tangent, thinking about thinking about writing. My friend Liz made a post the other day about how mostly when she is knitting she is performing the act described as knitting, but when she is sewing, there’s a lot of other stuff (cutting out, pinning, etc) that is not itself the act described as sewing.

Writing is a bit like sewing. Some of it is sitting down and banging out the words – if it wasn’t, the books would never exist. But there’s a lot of other stuff. Deleting the words you wrote the day, week, month or year before is a big part of it. Writing notes and making structure plans is, for me, essential. Writing words you know won’t be part of the book like character sketches and histories is a form of writing, and it adds to the quality of the books you produce but isn’t exactly the same as writing the book. And then there are the thinking parts which involve a lot of cups of tea or baths (if you’re Douglas Adams) and, for me, a lot of staring into space. Sometimes I reach for the keyboard or notebook and then put it down again, sometimes I write a paragraph and delete it. But eventually, assuming the book is going well, the thinking crystalises into decisions and then you can get back to writing.

This isn’t even touching upon the business of being a writer which involves a lot of things to help your book sell which are not in any way writing. That includes school and library visits, conference speaking, the construction of marketing material and keeping up a social media presence, judging competitions, meeting rights buyers and film agents and fans. There’s a whole bunch of stuff which can be very enjoyable and satisfying in its own way but is really ‘being a writer’ rather than ‘writing’.

Producing blog posts is somewhere between the two. My blog exists as part of my website which is a promotional tool. But writing it feels more like writing than some of the other business promotion things I do. It gets a thought out of my brain and on to the page, and then into the world. Unlike my fiction, my blog posts are not carefully considered, edited and rewritten. They’re more like the first draft of an idea where I start writing and see where I end up.

And now I need to get back to that thinking, I have a cup of tea and some space to stare at – so I’m all set.

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