Indie Author Weekly

085: The importance of "thinking" time as part of the book writing process

November 10, 2020 Sagan Morrow Episode 86
Indie Author Weekly
085: The importance of "thinking" time as part of the book writing process
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Indie Author Weekly
085: The importance of "thinking" time as part of the book writing process
Nov 10, 2020 Episode 86
Sagan Morrow

This episode of Indie Author Weekly shares the vital importance of “thinking” time as part of the book writing process.  

What do I mean when I say “thinking” time?  

Basically, that’s any time you’re thinking about your book but not actively writing it. For me, this often happens when I’m out walking or kayaking, or lying awake at night unable to sleep, or just daydreaming at random. Many people find that any kind of mindless task, such as doing household chores or showering etc, is a good opportunity for this. This doesn’t happen when you are sitting at the computer or writing in your journal.  

“Thinking” time can be passive or active. The passive version is when something just springs to mind, unbidden, when you weren’t thinking about your book at all. The active version is when you are trying to focus your brainpower on your book, and working through ideas and such in your mind. 

Both are equally important! Even if you typically do most of your book’s “thinking” time in a passive fashion, I would still encourage you to deliberately carve out time to do the active version of it. It will enable you to channel your ideas, make decisions around plot, and resolve any issues you might be struggling with in your book.  

We often discount “thinking” time because we can’t quantify it, the way we can with a word count. This is a huge problem. If you are only concerned about getting the words on the page, and you don’t consider the underlying themes and tone and characters of your story, then you won’t be able to tease out the nuances of it, and you’ll have a “flatter” story. We don’t want that. We want our books to have depth, substance, a three-dimensional angle. The more that you understand the story, the better your book will be.  

TUNE IN to this episode to find out why "thinking" time is so important, plus a real-life example and how to make it work as part of your own book writing process...  

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Show Notes Transcript

This episode of Indie Author Weekly shares the vital importance of “thinking” time as part of the book writing process.  

What do I mean when I say “thinking” time?  

Basically, that’s any time you’re thinking about your book but not actively writing it. For me, this often happens when I’m out walking or kayaking, or lying awake at night unable to sleep, or just daydreaming at random. Many people find that any kind of mindless task, such as doing household chores or showering etc, is a good opportunity for this. This doesn’t happen when you are sitting at the computer or writing in your journal.  

“Thinking” time can be passive or active. The passive version is when something just springs to mind, unbidden, when you weren’t thinking about your book at all. The active version is when you are trying to focus your brainpower on your book, and working through ideas and such in your mind. 

Both are equally important! Even if you typically do most of your book’s “thinking” time in a passive fashion, I would still encourage you to deliberately carve out time to do the active version of it. It will enable you to channel your ideas, make decisions around plot, and resolve any issues you might be struggling with in your book.  

We often discount “thinking” time because we can’t quantify it, the way we can with a word count. This is a huge problem. If you are only concerned about getting the words on the page, and you don’t consider the underlying themes and tone and characters of your story, then you won’t be able to tease out the nuances of it, and you’ll have a “flatter” story. We don’t want that. We want our books to have depth, substance, a three-dimensional angle. The more that you understand the story, the better your book will be.  

TUNE IN to this episode to find out why "thinking" time is so important, plus a real-life example and how to make it work as part of your own book writing process...  

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Hello friends! Sagan here. Welcome back to Indie Author Weekly, where I share my behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. 

If you’re new to this podcast, I am a productivity strategist for multi-passionate creatives: I help people manage their time and energy effectively, through customized, actionable strategies that work for your unique life and business. When I’m not teaching about productivity to solopreneurs, I spend my time writing books, such as my Polyamorous Passions romantic comedy series. And that is what this podcast is all about: the adventures of the author life. 

Get podcast and book updates delivered directly to your inbox at SaganMorrow.com/behindthescenes—link is in the show notes.

Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. In this episode, I want to talk about the vital importance of “thinking” time as part of the book writing process. 

What do I mean when I say “thinking” time? 

Basically, that’s any time you’re thinking about your book but not actively writing it. For me, this often happens when I’m out walking or kayaking, or lying awake at night unable to sleep, or just daydreaming at random. Many people find that any kind of mindless task, such as doing household chores or showering etc, is a good opportunity for this. This doesn’t happen when you are sitting at the computer or writing in your journal.

“Thinking” time can be passive or active. The passive version is when something just springs to mind, unbidden, when you weren’t thinking about your book at all. The active version is when you are trying to focus your brainpower on your book, and working through ideas and such in your mind. 

Both are equally important! Even if you typically do most of your book’s “thinking” time in a passive fashion, I would still encourage you to deliberately carve out time to do the active version of it. It will enable you to channel your ideas, make decisions around plot, and resolve any issues you might be struggling with in your book.

So, why does thinking time matter so much? It has quite a few benefits, including an opportunity to…

  1. Understand your main character’s motivations better
  2. Work through a problem with the plot
  3. Explore themes of your story
  4. Learn about the backstory of any of your side characters
  5. Identify patterns that crop up—intentional or otherwise
  6. ...and so on

The benefits are really endless! But often, we discount “thinking” time because we can’t quantify it, the way we can with a word count. This is a huge problem. If you are only concerned about getting the words on the page, and you don’t consider the underlying themes and tone and characters of your story, then you won’t be able to tease out the nuances of it, and you’ll have a “flatter” story. We don’t want that. We want our books to have depth, substance, a three-dimensional angle. The more that you understand the story, the better your book will be. 

Here’s an example of this from my upcoming romcom, Small Town Stilettos: a modern marriage of convenience

The main character, Peggy, dislikes her friend’s husband. And she starts meddling, to try to convince her friend that the husband is super mediocre. 

But, the entire premise of the story is that Peggy’s aunt is forcing her to get married to her childhood sweetheart. So when I was initially writing the scenes where Peggy starts meddling, I found it frustrating—it felt right, but I also couldn’t figure out why she was such a meddling person, considering how horrified she was about it with her aunt infringing on her life. 

It wasn’t until I took a step back and examined my story from a distance that I realized why it all made sense, given Peggy’s relationship with her aunt, the grief she was going through at the loss of her aunt, and her entire upbringing, and so on. 

Likewise, when I first started writing Small Town Stilettos, I wasn’t sure why Peggy was so annoyed about being forced to come to this small town to deal with her aunt’s estate—but I realized pretty quickly, through the thinking process, that it was because she already went through all of this with her mom. It brings up a lot of unresolved grief for her. 

The thinking process helps us sympathize more deeply with our characters and unfold the story organically so it makes sense and feels real, even if, at first glance, we might have questions about why a person is doing such-and-such a thing. 

By the way, you can get updates on how that book is coming along when you sign up for my weekly podcast email, which goes out every Tuesday in conjunction with this podcast! Do that at SaganMorrow.com/behindthescenes.  

So, there you have it! Prioritize “thinking” time as part of your writing process, and you’ll be a better writer and storyteller as a result.

As I said earlier, you don’t want to be sitting at the computer when doing this—you want the thoughts to come organically. But once you start working through and processing those things, then you’ll want to record those ideas: speak into a voice recorder, use a mindmap, quickly jot down notes or bullet points in a journal or at the computer, etc. That will ensure you don’t lose those thoughts, but at the same time you won’t restrict yourself by sitting at the computer the whole time and trying to force the thinking process.

Now, I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram, @Saganlives, to chat about it, or to let me know if you have requests for future episode topics. The more you tell me what you’d like to see more of on this podcast, the better that I can accommodate that. 

If you enjoyed this episode, please take 2 minutes to share this podcast on social media and subscribe and rate it on Apple Podcasts—any time you share it or leave a rating or review, it helps more listeners find the Indie Author Weekly podcast, so every bit counts! I really appreciate your support. 

Want to stay in touch? Yeah you do! Get podcast and book updates delivered directly to your inbox, plus unlock awesome bonuses such as free chapters of my books, at SaganMorrow.com/behindthescenes—link is in the show notes.

Thanks so much for tuning in to the Indie Author Weekly podcast, and I will see you in the next episode.