Writing Around

When I was working on my recent workshop for The Writer's Loft, I had a brilliant realization.

There's writing. Objects-stationery-draw-10141-l

And then there's writing around.

So you don't think I'm the densest writer on the planet, I've known this forever, but haven't known known it, if you get my drift.  Writing around is something I've always practiced but never named.  And I'm going to bet every bit of money in my bank account that the same is true of you.

Writing is when you're working on your actual project.  Writing a chapter, scene, paragraph, sentence, or word that will (with perhaps some editing) eventually appear in the finished product.

Writing around is when you are writing, well, around said project.  Working on a character sketch, for instance.  Or making endless notes about where the plot is going.  Journaling about the storyline, or why the location of the big break-up scene should be moved. 

And so on and so forth.

There's a whole hell of a lot of writing around involved in writing.  I'm guessing here, but I'd bet that the ration may be as high as 3:1, with the amount of writing around being at least three times higher than actual writing.

Which is fine.  Writing around is necessary and important.  Novels, memoirs, articles and essays do not get written without it.

But what's not fine is when we don't give ourselves credit for it.  Sometimes we're so concerned with our writing output that we forget to count all the writing around.  Maybe I wrote 5 pages of notes on my novel, but no actual scenes.  So I beat myself up, thinking I didn't get any writing done. 

When in truth, what I got done–writing around–was probably nearly as important as the actual writing.  Because without a lot of writing around, there isn't going to be any writing.

How else will you:

And so much more.  So remember the value of writing around, and next time you write 3 pages of notes on your next story, you get official bragging rights.  Because, you have been writing, sir or madam.

Do you have any writing around wisdom?

**FYI, I'm trying really hard to get back to a regular posting schedule.  Not every day (how did I ever manage that?) but three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Come back here on Wednesday because I have an exciting guest poster lined up!

Photograph by danzo08, from Everystockphoto, where you might have noticed I get all my photos, because I am such a creature of habit and if it works, why fix it?

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6 Responses to Writing Around

  1. Anica Grey 01/31/2011 at 17:34 #

    Great post. You are absolutely right–we never give ourselves credit for the work we do that leads to the actual writing. I just spent the day “writing around” for my story. I was upset because it’s not apart of the 50,000 words I’m trying to write in a month. But without this writing around, I would be stuck at 12,559 words indefinitely. Now I won’t be.

  2. Charlotte Dixon 01/31/2011 at 18:12 #

    Exactly, Anica. And congratulations for being at 12,559 words. That is awesome. I predict a surge in word count soon…

  3. J.D. Frost 01/31/2011 at 18:22 #

    What I usually do is the worst thing possible: I sit down and start pecking away. There are “successful” writers who claim to do the same. I think I could do better if I first learned about my characters. I could make notes on them or have them fill out an application to be in my book. When I just peck away, all of my characters tend to be some facet of myself. I am a man of many talents, but I don’t think I can be a hooker, a star athlete, and a chef all in the same 280 pages. I need them to have their own strong persona with quirks and history and goals. I can use a lot more writing around.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 01/31/2011 at 18:31 #

    J.D., I do admire your approach, though. I have a certain amount of angst about knowing things before I set off. I’ve had too many false starts when I’ve not known enough. But the way you do things is the fantasy idea I have of how “real” writers write.

  5. Roy Burkhead 02/01/2011 at 10:24 #

    Interesting stuff. I agree: we need to give ourselves credit!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 02/01/2011 at 12:27 #

    We writers are often way too hard on ourselves.

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