The Aspiring Writer: The Thinker

Writing the thinker

The other day I had what on first glance, would seem like a very unproductive day. Although I sat down to start the second draft of manuscript number two, I didn’t really get any words on the page.

Why? Because I was thinking.

Thinking is an understated and often unspoken part of the writing process.

Sure thinking is the first part of the process – the idea, the seed. You let it roll around and get comfortable in your mind, it sets in, germinates and begins to grow into something worth nourishing and nurturing. That thinking is enormously fun, especially when you realise that you need to stop thinking and start writing. But that’s not the end of the thinking process.

Being a pantser by nature for the first draft, and a plotter from thereafter, the thinking becomes an integral part of the process. This is where I fell down with my first manuscript. I moved straight from draft one, on to redrafting without really thinking about where my story was at. I’d read it through a couple of times, made notes, even had advice from an editor on plot holes (major!) but I didn’t give myself time to think and plan going forward.

Now, every writer is different of course. Hard core pantsers can just continue to write and rewrite without having to do much plotting. They work it out as they go along, but even then, they still do a lot of thinking.

So there I sat. Staring at my manuscript. Thinking.

I jotted down my plot points and complications, climax and resolutions, which opened up some holes and got me thinking even more.

Pen in mouth, eyes wandering, mind ticking over. Thinking.

Thinking about my protagonist, my antagonist, story structure and character arcs – you know, the big things.

By the end of the day, I had smoothed over some areas, rearranged scenes and wrote down what needed to be added and changed. Did I get any words down? No. Was the day productive – absolutely!

I’m just fortunate that I was home alone because from the outside it would have surely looked like I was wasting the entire day!


How important is thinking in your writing process?