It’s Still Writing When I Do This (Right?)

I’m not always sitting at my desk. I’m not always just writing pages of story. But there are lots of things that I do that I think count as writing.

  • Trolling because that one word is only almost correct, and I can’t remember the right one.
  • Scribbling illegibly in my notebook as I try to work out my character growth/plot point/back story or whatever else is just barely out of my reach.
  • Reading.
  • Staring out the window. Watching that crow strut her stuff or just the wind through the leaves.
  • Running.
  • Lying on the couch. Staring at the ceiling.
  • Walking the dog, muttering to myself. (Probably scaring away the neighbors.)
  • Cleaning the refrigerator.

The story doesn’t stop just because I’m not hunched over the laptop, I’m not done working it out just because I’m chopping onions or going to bed. If I can get into it enough, it just keeps churning, it just keeps untangling itself in my head. It keeps — I hope — getting better.

What non-writing do you do when you’re writing? Do you think you’re just as productive as when you’re churning out a thousand words in one sitting?


Word Nerd: Ligne Donnée

SparkIn one of my recent sweeps through Borders I picked up on of my nerdiest purchases to date: Penguin’s Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory. A book that probably stopped being practical once I got my BA in English, I still delight in learning about literature, and how people talk about it. And this book is proving that even though my college gave me that nifty piece of paper, there’s still plenty to discover.

Like this nifty term: ligne donnée. A French term coined by Paul Valery, it means “given line.” The book defines it as “the line that is ‘given’ to the poet by God, or by nature, or by a muse, or by some power outside himself.” Poets (and other writers, I’m going to say) have to come up with all the other lines by themselves, but there will always be that one, perfect line that seems to come out of no where. You can’t control when it occurs – but when it happens, it’s magic.