I just spent half an hour playing solitaire. What a waste! Or not…

Conventional wisdom says that when you write you should be spending 50% of your time on pre-writing thought and researching, 25% of your time writing a first draft and 25% editing and polishing what you wrote.

Well who am I to argue with ‘you should’? That solitaire time was pre-writing thought. Yes siree, it was.  It was changing gears time, moving me from the practical everyday chores that I needed to get out of the way to a very different mind-set – that of the focused writer.

That pre-writing time can be anything from research to transitioning gently from one type of activity to another. Let’s suppose you are starting a new project, and not adding to one you’ve already started.

Depending on what you are writing you might:

  • schedule and allot your time for this writing, especially if you are working to a deadline or you have a pile of other tasks that need to be fitted around your writing
  • decide on what you’re going to write about – your theme or topic, your plot or characters
  • decide who your readers will be and what approach will appeal to them (formal/informal, facts/stories, personal/objective)
  • decide on what you need to get together for research to back up your writing
  • get your ideas really clear in your head. Move from the general, loose, mushy ideas to an idea that has been clearly thought through
  • organize the different aspects of your theme or plot so your article, essay or story flows logically for the reader

Some of these steps might need paper and pencil, many you can do in your head as you stare out the window, fidget with a pencil or play solitaire.

What do you do when you’re in pre-writing mode?