A) Early morning before the world is awake?
B) Mid-morning after three cups of coffee, your senses are stimulated and your body is vibrating?
C) Early afternoon after a productive morning and you’re on a roll?
D) Evening when the kids are asleep, your mind is clear, and you’re ready to claim “your time?”
E) None of the above.
While the answer is different for all of us, I want to suggest the best answer is: E) None of the above. Why? Because I believe that the best time to write might be, well, when you’re not writing.
Since all articles or novels begin with a core idea or concept, the writing process begins in the mind before it begins on paper. Developing and recording the idea comes later, when we sit behind the computer.
The best time to write then can occur anytime or anywhere. For me, the best time to write can be driving home from work listening to music, reading at my local Barnes & Noble, conducting an odd job round the house, or during a shower.
When we’re not writing, our subconscious often does the writing for us. No wonder so many writers keep a notebook by the bed, in their purse or car. For example, I’m writing this blog while I cleaning my home office. Yes, it’s true that the words you are now reading were later transcribed from my mind to my computer but they were initially crafted in my head until I had time to write them down. So, this blog post idea came first, the “mind writing” came second, and the transcription on paper came third.
Agatha Christie, the renowned British crime writer of 66 detective novels did much of her writing in her mind. When was the best time for her to plot her detective novels?
“The best time for planning a book is when you’re doing the dishes,” she confided. Good advice from someone the Guinness Book of World Records hails as the best-selling novelist of all time. She sold four billion copies of her novels and is eclipsed only by William Shakespeare and the Bible as the world’s most widely published books.
But how do you actually write when you’re not writing? Start by thinking about your idea or topic daily. What do you really want to say? Develop your central message, then develop the characters, setting and situation in which to deliver that message. What publications publish this type of article or novel? What voice is necessary to tell this story? Carve out 15 minutes a day to think about your subject. Ask yourself where can this idea go? Is there a market for it? How big? Understand exactly who you are writing to. Is the idea viable? Has it been done before? How is your idea unique in plot, characters, and angle? Is it mainstream enough? Relevant enough? Timely enough?
Once the idea passes these basic test questions, then daydream about it more. Take a drive, listen to music that inspires you, check out a Starbucks and let your idea brew with your coffee. Meander about bookstores to ignite inspiration. Plot it out in your head.
Finally, let your idea incubate a little more until it starts writing itself. You’ll know when to transcribe it from your thoughts to paper. When the time is right, let it pour out of your head. Capture in on your computer. What do you do when you get stuck? You begin the real work of outlining, writing and rewriting but by now you have enough momentum to keep going.
So, the next time you need to flesh out a new idea for an article or novel, remember the best time to write may be when you’re not writing.
The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement.
Blog entries are posted every other Thursday.
You may contact Jim Magruder at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Writing Tip: What it takes to Get Published in 2013 (thewritersrefuge.wordpress.com)