Prewriting often feels like idling while waiting for the light to change. Or being in neutral and revving the engine before a race. It is about checking off lists (or making them), seeking direction, practice writing, and research.
My research this month has been less technical and more about returning to some basics. I pulled out my dictionary rather than using an app. My lists include poetic forms (some familiar and some new to me) along with words, phrases and themes that fit my intended premise. I am reading through a classic to glean some understanding about my characters’ motivations. I am investigating specific personality traits for character consistency within the possible scenarios to be faced. Occasionally, I have gotten inspired to write a scene or a poem. But, most of what I am doing is less than tangible.
This stage of writing can be difficult for writers. If “starting” is one of the hardest parts about beginning anything, prewriting is about putting the key in the ignition on a below-zero day and hoping the engine will turn over with ease. There are days when the writing search engine sputters and refuses to engage. We run the risk of flooding ourselves with over-persistence. Sometimes we simply have to wait a few minutes and try again. Inasmuch as vehicles are computerized, sometimes we need to remember the basics–turning the key, letting the engine warm up, and maybe finding a friend with a running engine and jumper cables.
The same can be true for writing. We can do what we know and what we have done in the past. Sometimes we need to let ourselves warm up to new ideas or to ones that may have gone cold. Maybe we need to find a friend who re-energizes our writing through discussing ideas, scenarios, and possible trajectories.
Sometimes that friend is a classic read with fresh eyes after more years of personal perspective. Sometimes it is wiping the dust off the cover of a Webster’s Dictionary and rediscovering the origin of words. Sometimes it is waiting a few minutes before trying again.