This might sound like a rather obvious question, but for someone who tortures themselves trying to squeeze some writing time out of life between all the various other fires that need putting out, it’s a pretty important question.
Is staring into space while musing over the plot of your latest bestseller writing? Is editing writing? Is proof-reading writing?
Australian author Louise Cusack describes editing as ‘creative bookkeeping’, and views it separately to ‘writing’ – at least in so far as the personal resources required to achieve it.
If you give yourself a daily word target of say – 500 or 1000 words – what happens to that target when you have to spend your precious writing time editing your latest piece to send out?
Personally I think its all valid. Everything from daydreaming a weird characteristic of you latest pet character to scribbling notes about a key plot point on the back of the nearest piece of cardboard. There is a famous story about Red Dwarf; how the original writers came up with the idea in a pub. They kept the original beer-coaster that they scribbled their ideas on and there was actually a picture of it in the back of one of the Red Dwarf books I read.
I think its dangerous to rate the creative process. Who knows when that five minutes of daydreaming will actually provide the core of the next best thing since Stephanie Meyer/JK Rowling?
Having said that, I think new writing – where its just you and the blank page and you are dragging words out of nowhere to create something new – uses a unique psychic muscle. Editing, where you are not just proof reading but actually concentrating on the writing craft and structure, also uses something close, but its like a light warm up Vs bench training. If you really want to build that writing muscle, you have to spend time first drafting.
So what you think? What is writing? Do you change your goals and targets when you switch from first drafting to editing?