What is work for writers?

I’ve been following the blog “Pimp My Novel” for a while and Eric’s inside view of the publishing industry is truly insightful. His latest posting entitled “Schedule, Schedule, Schedule” is a fantastic reminder about how to carve up our daily schedule in order to work. His posting also got me thinking, what exactly is work when it comes to writing? Is it the “butt-in-chair” time, or is it any time you are thinking about your project?

I tend to think of my writing work as the latter. One of the ways that I think about my stories is by doing something else. I can’t just sit in the chair to think about untying all the knots of my plot twists and character development. My mind works best when I’m doing something active and not too taxing on the old noggin so I can concentrate on the story. My two favorites are walking or running and shooting hoops by myself. I’m far from being a doctor, but I think it has to do with the exercise allowing more blood to reach the brain, thus stimulating the creative centers. Sounds like a plausible scenario, right? As I’m trying to work out all the plot points for my new manuscript, The Campaign, (which is an old book that I’m re-working) the exercise helps me unwind the story every time it sticks.

And that’s a second point I’d like to bring up. In Pimp My Novel, Eric talks about the “need to be willing to revise.” I totally agree with him, but as I’m working out the plot on the basketball court or the jogging trail, instead of beginning the book too soon and then going back and having to revise the plot with new plot points or corrections, that’s less time I need to spend on revising. Like a fine wine (or even the 8 buck chuck that I like) plots tend to get better the longer we let them age. I don’t think we need to sit in the chair just to prove that we’ve done something. You’re also working when you are letting your story marinate in your mind while you drain a few buckets  from downtown.

What about you? Do you have to sit in the chair to feel like you’re working? Do you think about your plots when you’re doing something else? To the keyboards!


Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author. Bestselling author Sandra Brown recently had this to say about Mark’s latest novel, The Brink: “[The Brink] is a hell of a read. The chemistry between [the main characters] Danny and Sydney is terrific. The action sequences were heart-pounding, and I was left feeling that you have a sequel in mind!” Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at www.markfadden.com.