Thursday, January 8, 2009


by Kim Smith

Most writers will agree that there is a period in their lives where they only ‘think' or ‘talk’ about writing. In reality, they are doing something that I call pre-writing. It is a short period of time for some writers, (a little longer for others), where they get all the things tidied up before they can actually sit down and begin writing a book.

For many, this period of time is very important in their whole process. The whole process may have a bunch of different parts, but it is in the initial time where the ideas are coming together, that prewriting phase, that I speak of as being so important in getting a book to come out of our heads and onto the page.

Here is a short list of things that can go into your prewriting time. See if you can add anything to this that is your very OWN item.

1. Reading is “FUN” damental. This old saying is still true today. If you wanna write, you gotta read. While in the prewriting stage, reading is not only a fun way to get the muse going, it is vital.

2. Think out characters and ideas. Keep a pre-book notebook with all your thoughts and ideas sketched out in living color.

3. Try out an outline. Sometimes in the pre-writing stage, it is a good idea to have a little road map to point the way.

4. Create a place to write. Give yourself a place all your own, even if it is just a corner of your laundry room. Allow yourself the privilege of going there and being alone to create.

5. Put yourself on a writing deadline. Self imposed deadlines and schedules are a great way of making yourself accountable to your writing.

6. Do your research. This is probably one of the more important parts of the pre-writing stage. No one wants to read a book filled with mistakes about simple things that can be learned from a local law enforcement department, or another easy to connect with business. Get the information you need to have that authentic voice.

7. Start out slow, and don’t rewrite anything until you finish the entire thought you are trying to put out on paper. Sometimes you can revise the idea until it no longer resembles what you set out to write. That is a bad thing. Set aside revisions and rewrites and edits until you finish a first draft.

I hope this has given some of the new or aspiring authors out there reason to realize that it is not necessary to jump straight into the actual writing of their books. Sometimes we have to ease into it. Sneak up on it, like

Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny. Be vewy vewy quiet…


Kathryn Magendie said...

And I am SO chaotic about the process. I don't have a schedule; I don't do outlines; I don't know 'what's going to happen next,' so I just wing it; etc etc etc...!

However, three summers ago, I sat down and wrote a 75,000 novel in 30 days - I treated it like a job. I got up, had coffee and a mountain walk, then worked on the novel, ate lunch, worked until dinner and then took off the rest of the night...I did this M-F and took most weekends off - it was cool. at the time I wasn't working with R&T as much, wasn't querying for my first novel, wasn't sending off many short stories or essays, wasn't editing - My time was clear to do this for this 30 days, this summer.

Kim Smith said...

How encouraging to hear that! I would love to try being that organized and devoted sometime. I did sort of do that during Nanowrimo this year, and ended up with almost half of my current WIP on the page. It CAN be done!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Kathryn - Oh, to have a whole month just to write... what a gift!

Kim, interesting post! I usually zoom through the whole thing, with a few chapter edits on the first past, but then put it down for a year or so and come back to it for many iterations of edits. Did you know Dean Koontz writes one perfect page at a time? He edits it up to two dozen times until he's satisfied, then rarely if ever goes back to it. Interesting approach,isn't it?

Kim Smith said...

That is interesting... and news to me, I didn't know that! I love to hear about the process for different authors... always love Stephen King's book On Writing.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Great post. I'm currently working on my 6th ms, & I pre-wrote for over two years before I picked up my pen. Part of the reason was I had extensive editing to do on #5 & I knew if I started a new one I'd never get back to #5. Turns out I was right.

I love every aspect of writing. I used to think draft 2-20 were my favourite. But not anymore.

Do you suppose that means I'm growing up? Gosh.

s.w. vaughn said...

Hooray! I'm not blocked, I'm pre-writing. :-)

Great post, Kim - and I love Elmer Fudd!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Yay, SW! Write like the wind!

Kim, King's "On Writing" is my all time favorite writing book. ;o)

Joylene - keep up the great work!

Marta Stephens said...

What a neat little list! It's all true though. It's a brewing stage. The story is always in the back of my mind and sometimes that's where the best ideas come from. Thanks for sharing!

Kim Smith said...

Joylene! I didnt know you were on your sixth! way to go girl!

SW Elmer is the bomb!

Aaron, King is the bomb!

Marta, brewing stage... i LOVE That!!

Morgan Mandel said...

Stop by my blog tomorrow. You're getting a Premio Dardos Award!
Morgan Mandel

Kim Smith said...

Thanks very much Morgan! I have placed our award in the sidebar !