Perhaps there was a slight relief to not be actively writing but instead just thinking, consuming, daydreaming.
This resonated with me! I've found that letting elements of the story swirl around in the mind for a while really helps to filter what's most important. Character-led stories are my favourite too, and sometimes those character backstory details can only be picked up in those moments of not-writing! I've probably done most of the writing for my book while not writing. Does that make sense?😄
Travel does it for me. I am always energized by learning about other cultures and talking to people in different places. And because I like to write books that have a destination or travel angle to them, this is great research. :)
Thanks for the great reminder, Jami. Reading a book that I feel has the potential to be so much better, I get the sense the writer spent too much time typing and not enough time writing without writing. My best plotting and characterization ideas come to me when I'm off the computer. Sometimes they arrive while I'm in the bathtub/shower or outdoors, swimming, walking or just sitting in the sun. The least welcome, but most creative, usually come at 3 AM.
I bake. And take notes while I bake. And sometimes a story for my foodletter emerges from the crumbs.
I write in my head all the time...most of my first drafts happen while taking walks or showers and I absolutely love just sitting in a park or other place full of people and just watching life go by. This quiet observation is often how I understand myself better and seems to unlock my writing muscle.
I love the humour coming out of back pain (right up there with tooth pain in my estimation). And I agree, that shit does work.
Asking one's characters deep questions, such as, What was the worst thing that ever happened to you? Or, what do others admire most about you? What do you need to be forgiven for? That sort of thing really helps me dig in deep into who they are. I suppose it's method acting for writing.
I stroll around Manhattan and Brooklyn without a plan taking pics of everything that inspires me: flowers, doors, signs, foods. ~ I hope you're feeling better soon. 💗
These comments are all so interesting!! Thanks, everyone.
Coming from the tech world, I like to think of my not-writing writing time as background processing. I trust my brain is working it out while I rest and relax my body.
I think the best writing sometimes happens when we are not writing but I need something to record it or I will lose it. I like the notes pad in my phone for this if I don’t have a notebook with me. I love it when this happens. Lately, I feel less inspired but I know that my mind and body also need to rest.
Every time I see my cat stretch when she gets up I think, "I should do that too." Acupuncture would also be welcome!
Oh, ugh. Sorry about the back. I had a back issue and I went 2 months with no yoga and no tennis, and let me tell you, I was one unhappy motherfucker. PT has helped. Hope you are on the mend soon.
Yep, all those writing-adjacent tasks are legit. I'm a fan of research, info gathering interviews, eavesdropping, jotting down lines and quotes that come up in conversation with friends and family, walking or exercising, sewing and/or cutting fabric.
I had to take a short break from writing my weekly paid posts on my Substack because March was physically and emotionally intense and I was exhausted to the point that I would sit and do absolutely nothing, which is rare for me. Back at it today and I think my writing is better for that rest period.
I get my best ideas and solutions when I am running, which I never really want to do but always end up with not only an endorphin high, but also the lines or ideas I have been seeking. Infuriating, but true.
I’ve always did my best thinking of characters right before bed or before/during a nap. It started when I was a kid and hasn’t stopped, really. I don’t get as much done as if I were actually with the text, but it helps me access some emotional points and brainstorm. I also read a lot and think “I would like to write like this.”
Thank you so much for this! I am constantly writing without writing. I write about cookbooks, recipes, and mystery novels so I research and read more than I tend to write. It’s hard to get the words down sometimes and I find myself spending more time in the “not writing” phase and becoming overwhelmed. This leads to my notes sections on my phone being full of randomness that I have to peruse later. When it comes to my fiction writing, I listen to the sounds of the river or the ways the trees blow in the wind. New Orleans has a way of speaking to you if you listen.