Let’s say that last semester, you taught with an art professor who goes by this mantra:
Art is 80 percent thinking, 20 percent doing.
In writing, you’ve always believed in a similar concept, but could never articulate it very well. Then suddenly the prof delivers this sentence and you want to print posters about it, broadcast it on Facebook and Twitter, and check in when you pass this professor guy on campus – just to be the mayor of By the Genius’s Side.
So you know that in theory, this sounds good. Considering your next story idea or fleshing out your main points in your head must be brilliant. Until you start thinking about how much time that will take.
How can I afford the decadence of mulling ideas all over the place while my allotted writing time ticks away? You think. You realize that your blog readers – one, or even both of them, being fellow writers – may be thinking the same thing.
Those blog readers think that thinking about writing is like that kid batting a ball around the mini golf course. She’s yards away from the revolving hands of the windmill she is supposed to defeat. The kid is nowhere near that sixth hole. And the reader (or her child self, watching) is so annoyed with that kid with her tiny club and the turquoise ball with the red stripes that this dear reader used to like back in those days, that rightfully he should be playing mini golf with. What gave that little nut job the right, when your reader’s child self was busting his ass to cruise through the course with skill, trying to beat Uncle Mitch’s score for once in his life?
But you digress.
Here’s the thing.
Thinking ahead and then writing takes less time in the long run.
You come to your writing session eager to start.
Your points shine through clearer.
You pull out less hair.
So you decide to take this prewriting idea on a walk. On this walk, you think of some good lines and decide to make your prewriting blog entry a two-part series. Blog readers can enjoy one piece on the theory and value of prewriting. Part One will come across serious and thoughtful. The second and final installment will be an eye-catching bulleted list of what does and does not count as prewriting, this time with some humor (talking out your idea with a friend: Yes. Banging your head against the keyboard: No. Ha ha!)
You eagerly come back to write it.
The writing session for which you so carefully primed yourself begins. Well, after an hour on Facebook taking in videos of guinea pigs. And composing clever comments about them (which you decide need more thought and hold until later). The post includes none of the lines you came up with earlier. The two-part series becomes three entries.
You write the first one and somehow a touch of humor (or at least silliness) creeps into that one. Ha ha? You write it in the second and third person instead of the first. What the heck just happened? What are you going to do now?
Then you do a little dance. Because prewriting has triumphed. Part One is complete.
You ask the patient reader to stay tuned for more.
Photo by Robert Couse-Baker, used under Creative Commons license.