Imagine this. The dishwasher needs to be unloaded. Hey, at least you ran it, right? The laundry needs to be put in the dryer. The dogs are out of food. And if you don't blow dry your hair today, you're going to look like Mrs. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus... again. Maybe you even have kids tugging at your pant legs.
But finally you get a few minutes of precious writing time to sit down at your laptop. You look at the blinking cursor and the blank new chapter, and... where are you supposed to start? And then the oven timer goes off. And your window of writing opportunity ends as soon as you smell those freshly-baked brownies.
Several months ago, I read a strategy on Kristin Billerbeck's blog. She said she thinks about her characters and plot throughout the day so that whenever she sits down to right, she's ready to go. She's already brainstormed all that other stuff. This stuck with me, and I began to think how much more productive my writing time would be if I focused my attention throughout the day on my story. That way, even if I am away from my computer, I can still be working on my novel.
This week, I'm really going to make an effort to use this strategy and see how it affects my writing productivity. I've done this before, and it always works like a charm. Here are some ways I've found that preplanning, or brainstorming throughout the day, can affect your writing in a positive way:
1) It helps you stay focused on your goal for the scene.
2) It allows you to develop that goal well.
3) It helps you have a general "map" or outline of the scene, before you begin it, even if you like to write as a seat-of-the-pantster.
4) It helps you make style-specific choices like POV that can save time during rewrites.
The cool thing about making up stories for a living is that you can do that wherever you are, whether it's a baseball stadium or a movie theater. Start looking for inspiration all around you, and not only will it save you time, but it will also broaden your imagination and your ideas for your characters.
Have you ever tried this strategy before? How does it work for you? What do you usually do to prepare for your writing time? Or do you prefer to just sit down and write?