Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Carol J. Garvin at Careann's Musings recently blogged about pre-writing: " ... it began with a recurring image. ... But it wasn’t at the word-spilling stage quite yet. It needed encouragement."

This is part of writing, too: the time when a story is forming. Often we can feel it there: a pressure, an excitement, a restlessness. It pushes its way toward the surface, starts taking on words.

Some people have to know everything about the story--where it goes, who is in it, how it happens--before they start writing. Others use the first draft to make those discoveries. Pre-writing can include character sketches, drawings, maps, research, outlining, walking, showering, or just thinking.

When a new story is coming to me, I walk around all day long with it in the back of my mind. I only concentrate on it for a short time each day; the rest of the time I leave it back there, to let my subconscious work on it. Like a seed, it germinates in the dark.

Pre-writing can be so nice--the pleasures of anticipation, without the real story in all its imperfection to spoil our vision--that it can be tempting to stay there forever. On the flip side, we can be so eager to start writing that we jump in before the idea's quite ready.

Eventually we learn how to recognize "ready," that moment of ripeness.


  1. This is actually a hard time for me. My brain seems to crave structure, the boxes that the story will fill. I do get excited about the little things, the details about the characters, something funny or poignant that comes to mind, but I get frustrated when I can't quite see how it will hang together. Yes, I know this is how it is, but I'm happier when I have at least a little box to play with. :)

    1. So your essential pre-writing is finding the little boxes!