I wonder if anyone has ever done a survey to find out how much time an author spends on a novel is actually ‘mind-writing’? By that I mean time they spend daydreaming scenes and conversations they might one day use in a story. Plenty will tell us how much work goes into that first written draft and its subsequent revisions, but I’m surely not the only one who plays and replays entire chapters in my head, long before my fingers touch the keyboard?
I came late to writing, not because I didn’t want to be a writer, but because I couldn’t be bothered writing. The thought of all those hours laboriously writing down the ideas in my head just didn’t appeal. Drawing was much quicker. But I never stopped mind-writing. I had entire books in my head. They changed, evolved and grew daily until at last, I think, my brain proved too small to hold them all. I had to start pouring them out onto the computer or I would have gone mad. (Some would probably say I was too late.)
Having started to physically write though, I find myself mind-writing even more. There are enough ideas churning around in the quagmire that is my brain, to keep me going until I’m at least ninety years old. The characters in my works-in-progress stroll around in there too, arguing with each other as to how a scene should go, or acting out chapters in detail. They sit in the car with me on long journeys and discuss possible plot lines. Of course, I don’t talk to them out loud. Then people really would think I was ready for the funny farm. But it does help me to get characterisation and sequencing when characters ‘talk’ to me. Sometimes they even persuade me that they are more important than I thought they were. So characters to whom I’ve given walk-on walk-off parts, end up sticking around for the whole book and totally changing the plot.
I don’t think I’m mad. If I am, I enjoy mind-writing too much to stop now, so I guess I’ll stay mad. I just wish I could type faster!