What if I told you I write all day, every day? Would you believe me? You might. What if I added that I have a fill time job which has nothing to do with writing. Believe me now?
You might be envisioning a guy sitting at a computer with one hand on the keyboard and another on a laptop, balancing on his leg. Or, better yet, typing into an iPhone. Well, not quite. I write all day, but not in the way you think. I write in my mind, which may not be considered writing at all by any definition of the word, but I consider it to be. And, when it comes down to it, that’s all that matters, right?
Allow me to explain. I find myself thinking about my writing all the time. I think about what I have already written: what my next step should be in the never-ending revision process or what didn’t work quite so well. Sometimes I wonder about my characters like they are people I knew a long time ago and are just a phone call away. For stories I have finished, I find myself wondering ‘what’s next’? What would my characters be up to now? And just like a fan would ask the author of his or her favorite series ‘what will happen in the next book?’, so do I.
I think about the stories I haven’t finished, a somewhat more important thought process. Stories are easy to begin, harder to make interesting over a long period of time, and nearly impossible to finish (in a way that won’t make baby Dickens cry). They take a lot of thought. What’s the logical progression of my book? How can I make my character more interesting? I know that I want to eventually get from A to C, but how much B do I have to put in? And, the ever-haunting question, is what I’m writing even any good? Yeah, these thoughts take up a lot of my day.
But mostly I spend time on new ideas. I’ve told you all this, but I see things around me and imagine scenarios. I take it a bit further and ask the question what if when I’m experiencing someone else’s world. For example, I might watch a movie about a ghost and wonder, ‘What if the whole world were supernatural and everyone knew and accepted it as a way of life? How would society be different? And in that context, what would an abnormal story be?’
And in case you didn’t catch that: yes, I also write while I read. Sometimes it isn’t even fun to read anymore (Well, no, that’s blasphemy. Maybe I should say, not as fun). I’ll notice things that, in my opinion, writers shouldn’t do/should be edited out. For example, if I see a character introduced with an elaborate description and life history, I’ll think about how I would have just given enough detail to spark the imagination and then reveal bit by bit through the story. Or if I see an excessive use of adverbs, I’d delete it in my mind. When I see things done particularly well, I ask myself if I do that in my own writing. And then I ask myself if I could do that, two totally different questions. As you can imagine, constantly editing and considering others’ writing in my head is a great daily exercise in improving my own writing. But it does have its downside: now certain writing mechanics annoy me whereas a few years ago I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed.
I write while in the bookstore. I pass by the rows of books and wonder if I could have come up with the ideas I see. I read the back of covers and think about how I would have handled the story myself.
Two summers ago, when I was writing three hours a day and reading just the same, I would fall asleep writing prose in my head. And not the abstract meaning of writing I use above, but literally thinking out lines of narrative. It didn’t stop there! One morning or two, while coming up and out of sleep, I caught myself narrating my actions. It was pretty creepy, but quite fitting for this blog post, I should say.
Am I alone in this (excluding the last one…if that happened to you, please seek help!)? How often do you find yourself thinking of writing?