I decided that one of my major goals for this year was to try and learn more about writing – to hone my skills.

Sure, that means practising my writing, but it also involves thinking about the way I write.

After last week’s Friday Feedback on this blog, I was reminded by writer Dimity Powell about the importance of thinking for a writer.

At least 50% of my writing time is not about putting words on a computer or paper, it’s about thinking – thinking about the way I’m writing – thinking about my story.

This involves thinking about all sorts of things like

  • taking the time to get to know my characters
  • working out how to get my characters from one place to another
  • increasing the tension by working out story clues for the reader that my character won’t know about
  • thinking about the shape and pacing of my story and whether I’ve allowed enough beats
  • how to immerse my reader in the setting
  • any logic problems with the plot
  • what’s going to happen next and how is will my main character react
  • what kind of ending am I working towards
  • how is my character thinking and feeling in the scene I am writing
  • what are my character’s motivations in the scene I am writing
  • what is the purpose of the scene I’m writing in the whole scheme of things

And that’s just the thinking time. I also spend hours researching and reading, looking at how other writers write and reading their blogs, and learning new things.

So I guess what I’m saying is don’t berate yourself about lack of words on paper. It’s not a measure of how hard you have worked. Sure it’s something tangible, but if you have spent all day researching and thinking, that’s still working on your story – it’s still an important part of the writing process.

As long as you have allowed yourself to spend time with your characters and their story in your mind, you have still been creating, you have still been working towards that elusive goal; finishing your story.

And to me, thinking time is well worth the effort and can avoid a lot of rewriting in the long run.

I’d love to hear how much time you spend thinking about what you’re writing and whether you have any ways like yoga or listening to music to get your creative juices flowing. Feel free to leave your comments at the end of this post.

Happy writing:)


P.S. Don’t forget to check out Friday Feedback where writers can 150 words critiqued.


  1. I find for myself I have two seperate ways of writting. One is just information. A stack of stuff that I would like to put into the chapter. I usually close my eyes and touch type and just think and my fingers write whatever I think about and when I open my eyes 99% of what is written is exactly what I wanted to say. I just keep doing this. When I have a chapter ( even if is only a pragraph) I put it down and do another. A week or so later I will come back and re-read and alter and add to my words and the chapter gets bigger and bigger the more I do this. Eventually I get to a point where my inner voice will say that’s enough. In my head I have an idea of the stroy I want to write.
    I then continue putting the chapter down, picking it back up again a week or a month later until one day it is finished. Or is it.
    A this point I then put all the chapters together and start work on the flows of what I want to say. Shifting chapters around to make sure they tell the story I know I want to tell. Once that is sorted I then will go somewhere quite and work on flow, emotion, correct names, times, timeline and anything else I think I need to.
    I will then give my story to secial people and see what feed back I get. I change accordinly if I think the comments are relative. The story gets its grammar checked. Re-altered again and then taken away to a quite place to make sure I have said exactly what I have wanted to say.
    I look at the words in a story as being music. I can hear it playing in my head. I also rely on my sub-conscious. I ask it to come up with a soloution and when I write there it is.

  2. Great blog post, Dee. I spent a good couple of months just thinking about my story without writing any words. During that time, I also read on crafting a story. It was time well spent. In my mind I was able to map out my story from beginning to end. Previously, I had been stuck in the dreaded middle, with no direction in sight.

  3. I think it makes more work in the long run, but I like the write now, think later approach. Freewritng and just writing through when there are no ideas, can look like rubbish once it’s done. However, there is also some gold that can be panned out amongst all the debris. Plus it comes from some other bit of the brain which isn’t logical or methodical. It’s almost like a writing meditation.
    However, when I can’t be bothered to do this, I go on a walking meditation with the dog!

  4. Thanks, Nicola for sharing the way you write.

    It sounds so organic. I must admit that each book is a different writing experience for me and sometimes I find it best to just write what’s in my head and my subconscious and then shape the story later.

    I love what you say about taking your story away to a quite place to make sure you have said exactly what you have wanted to say. An editor once asked me what my vision for a particular story was, and this is so important.

    Happy writing:)


  5. Thanks, Cheryl,

    As writers, it’s so important to find what works for us isn’t it?

    I think you make an important point. I don’t have to know everything about my plot but I have to have some idea where my story is going – the direction of it.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Happy writing:)


  6. Thanks for sharing how you write, Tracey,

    I’m a big one for walking the dog too. I find that it generates some of my best ideas (and she loves it too:)

    You’re right about the gold. Sometimes it helps to think outside the square, doesn’t it?

    Happy writing:)


  7. I find a lot of my best dieas – whether for new stories, or for my wprok in progress – come when I’m away from the computer. On my morning walk and driving the car are two of th eplaces where my mind is not on my work and ideas seem to just come. the other place is in the shower. I read soemthng that there is a trigger to the creative part of the brain to do with warmth (or maybe it was humidty??) which is why the shower helps.

  8. Thanks for the link, Sally,

    I also find that the shower is a great place for me to think. Being away from the computer definitely helps free my mind too. I wonder if that’s why I sometimes still prefer to hand write rather than use the computer.

    Hope your writing and thinking are going well:)


  9. Thanks for the mention Dee! And as always such timely advice. I think a lot but your terrific post has emphasised the depth to which thoughts can be taken to really impact ones writing – process. It’s such a difficult thing to qualify and quantify though isn’t it? Especially when you are trying to explain this to a fellow human non-writing being in terms of ‘work’ achieved.

    I agree with Sally. Driving the car, vacuuming the floor and washing my hair seem the best portals to positive thought. I swear I’m going to crash the car one of these days though!

  10. Yes the thinking is important! I spend those last few minutes of consciousness thinking about my story every night, but sometimes I do dedicate thinking time and find I need a notebook to jot things down to help organise my thoughts, otherwise they always seem to flow back to Robson Green from Wire in the Blood… hmmm…. oops, there I go again, what where we talking about? 🙂

  11. Thanks Dimity,

    I have given up trying to explain what I have achieved with my writing – even to myself:) To me, each paragraph, each page is an achievement. Unfortunately, we’re not one of those professions that gets paid by the hour so we can’t even use a bank statement as evidence that we work really hard:)

    We write because it’s who we are and our successes are not always evident to the outside world. We have to take our satisfaction and feelings of self worth from the fact that we are doing something NOBODY else can do – write the book that comes from our heart:)

    Thinking is even harder to measure than the words on paper, but it’s just as essential.

    Happy writing:)


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