At our Alaska chapter of Romance Writers of America, we always end our business meetings with a Round Robin, a time for each of us to say what’s been happening in our lives, especially our writing lives. One member said she hadn’t done any writing and told us about her activities But when prodded, she admitted she had noticed some things she might write about later, and and taken a few notes. She was greeted by a chorus of, “That’s writing. That counts.”
Sometimes we forget that there’s more to writing than writing or revising a draft. In my case, I do a lot of historical research—the photo is of my current pile of books I am reading or using as reference. That’s part of my writing process. So is talking about writing to a friend, taking a few notes I might use later, or thinking about a character or scene. I also count reading, when I’m thinking about the details while I read. (Yes, I often notice how someone is described or how the writer makes me want to turn the page. I try not to do it so much it destroys the story, but I am aware of it.)
Another thing that isn’t “technically” writing that is part of the writing process is taking a break, what I call refilling the well. If I do nothing but writing 24/7, I will burn out. So sometimes I deliberately step away from the keyboard to take a walk, go to yoga class, or do a little gardening. I find that I have more ideas when I return to writing. My brain has used the break to refill the well, or let the ideas percolate to the surface. (Does that metaphor work for people too young to know coffee percolators? Maybe they can find a reference online! 🙂 )
For all your aspiring writers out there, I do recommend you put in as many hours reading and writing as you can. But don’t despair if you can’t actually write every day. Thinking about writing, and all the things I mentioned above, counts as writing, too. It’s all part of the process.