When Writing Isn’t Writing and When Not Writing, Is

May 4, 2012

Today, I woke up from a nap with a specific sentence of dialogue on my mind.  Eyelids half-operational, I grabbed my Jack-Pack from my purse and wrote the words down. (For those of you who do not know what a Jack-Pack is, I will explain: a Jack-Pack is a little note book given to me by a dear friend, whose late husband was also a writer and therefore, like most serious writers, kept a notebook with him wherever he went to record snippets of conversations and ideas. His name was Jack. I will forever call my little notebook a Jack-Pack in memory of him.) I wasn’t writing at the time these words emerged from my unconscious, compelling me to wake. I was asleep. But I was still practicing my craft. I was still writing, however unaware of the process.

Yesterday, I spent three hours of my ‘writing’ investigating the labyrinth of writing markets online, taking notes on them and organizing those notes. To an outsider, I may have looked as if I was unproductively surfing the net, killing time. I wasn’t. I downloaded and copied submission guidelines and filed them as I made notes. This led to a few more hours of editing some finished pieces to suit specific markets, then a few hours more hours of submitting those pieces with even more time spent on recording those submissions.  I exhausted almost a whole day not actually writing even one new word. But I was still ‘writing’. For me, writing without submitting at some point, is like cooking a meal with no one to consume it.

And then there’s reading which is ‘writing’; reading anything I can get my hands on, reading books I don’t like so I know why I don’t like them and do not repeat the same errors, reading books I do enjoy that give me pleasure, reading books that inspire me out of my literary comfort zone. I read as a reader and then read as a writer evaluating the craft and style another writer. It is all an essential part of ‘writing’ although pen may never meet paper or fingers touch a computer key.

There are times when I stare into space, simply thinking, until I get a word just right or an idea is clarified into coherence. I may look catatonic, but I’m not. I am still ‘writing’.

One Response to “When Writing Isn’t Writing and When Not Writing, Is”

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