90% of Writing Goes On Between Your Ears

Posted: May 4, 2016 in Writing
Tags: , , ,



Last week I mentioned a writing contest/exercise in which I was participating during the month of April. The idea was to see who could form the longest “chain,” adding 1 new “link” for every consecutive day you added at least one new sentence to your WIP. Miss a day and you’ve broken your chain; you have to start again at zero. My chain ended up being 30 links long. I added at least a sentence to THE LAST FAERIE GODMOTHER every single day in April.

Most days that’s all I added. For April I wrote a total of maybe a thousand words.

And I learned something. Writing a book – for me, at least – is only fractionally about putting words on the page. Most of the writing goes on in my head, long before I actually type the words. It doesn’t just flow out of my fingertips. Before I can confidently write a scene, I need to mull it over. That takes drive time, shower time, standing in line time, laying in bed before I fall asleep time. If I try to write without having taken that mulling time, I just stare at the page.

I used up all of my mulling early in the month. But the next day I still had to write something. So I wrote something, but it was like squeezing that last bit of toothpaste from the tube. There was nothing left. I hadn’t produced that new tube of toothpaste, yet, so I couldn’t just squeeze out the words. I became so preoccupied with forcing something – anything – out, that I never got up a decent mulling the rest of the month.

Looking back on what I actually wrote while forging that chain, I think I will cut most of it. Because for the last few days – now that the pressure to produce is off – I have actually had the freedom to think about where I want the scene to go. And in a couple more days I’ll sit down and write a few thousand words. And they will flow smoothly like a single coherent thought, rather than a rat’s nest of random flotsam crammed together to fill space.

Now that I’m done producing, I can get back to actual writing.

  1. Amira says:

    This is true.


  2. Amira says:

    By the way, are you entering this contest? It’s called “pass or pages.”



    I really hoped that they’d do one for MG fantasy, and now they’re finally doing it and I can’t enter because I have to do this big edit on my MS… So I figured at least I’d pass on the info.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] cases take with it whatever was gumming up the works.  I talked about forcing yourself to write in an earlier post.  Unless you are a journalist or you make your whole living from putting words on paper, just let […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s