Writer Wednesday – Working on Writing Without Actually Writing


The old image of a writer stooped over a cluttered desk madly scrawling or typing away is poetic, but hardly realistic. Ignoring the fact that most of us are digital these days, many of us find ourselves writing almost anywhere and often plagued by interruptions instead of being able to cloister away in some oddly lit room to work without end. Many writers have found ways to make other activities prove useful to them. Here are just a few examples.

Writing with Minecraft™

I am often surprised by just how many writers I have found who use Minecraft™ as a way to enhance their writing. Somewhat reluctantly I have tinkered with it as well since my daughter fell in love with Youtube videos of the game. It makes a bit of sense since it is a giant Lego set, more or less. You can go in and build just about anything on any scale. Granted, the details are a bit vague, but for an overall layout of something, it is incredibly useful. More than one author, including Holly Lisle who has been mentioned in this blog on several occasions, have been known to release models of things from their novels in Minecraft™ form. Ships, castles, cities, and any number of other things. This offers a way to see where everything sits in relation to other areas, but also is a way to engage your audience and make your writing more ‘real’ to them.

Doodles to Populate Your Writing

Ah, this one is close to my heart. Doodling random things on the backs of letters, napkins and scrap paper has inspired any number of stories and even one race for a novel. They can be done at any time, anywhere and never need your full attention. They are just random scribbles of visual ideas that can later be refined into something more useful. Doodle enough and eventually you are going to creat something that really inspires you in your writing.

Writing by Sitting

That’s right. An author who is sitting in a public place doing absolutely nothing is working on their writing. Observation of the people and things in the world around you is an amazingly useful tool. Story fodder is roaming around constantly and many of the authors known for realistic dialogue, people and scenes can attribute it in part to having taken the time to carefully watch those around them interact. One author whose name eludes me at the moment flatly stated that everything that ever happened in the backgrounds and many primary scenes of her novels were real events she had herself observed while sitting on a bench in her town.

Music and Writing

Undeniably, music can affect what and how we think. I can’t begin to list the number of authors through history who have been inspired to write through the music they hear. In the modern age, there are authors who create entire playlists for the varied characters and settings of their stories. Sitting and listening to music might seem like a casual diversion, but it can actually serve to inspire better writing.

Writing for Yourself

Okay, this is cheating. I know the title said you weren’t writing, but in this case, it isn’t ‘work’ writing. Unlike the writing as ‘work’, this is where an author simply sits and writes something in their spare time that is meant only to please themselves. No deadlines, no editorial mandates, just a story they really want to see through that will never earn them a dime. More accurately, meant only for yourself to enjoy and if it happens to make a few dimes, all the better. For the writer who really does end up stooped like the old familiar image from endlessly trying to meet deadlines, writing on the side for their own pleasure can do wonders for their ability to stay productive.

Final Thoughts

These are just a handful of ways authors can find to be working on their writing even when they aren’t actually writing for their income. The world is full of inspirations. Writers are in a unique position to use an endless number of non-writing activities as a means of further developing their work. What other job considers time spent sitting or playing with digital building blocks as perfectly acceptable uses of time? As long as the author doesn’t get caught up in them so much that they aren’t actually writing, it is a good use of time.

What are your thoughts?

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