Here are some ways to work when we're not writing:
- Solving problems. Worrisome plot issues, tricky scenes, and questionable threads can be examined and resolved when we're not staring at the computer screen.
- Choreographing future scenes. What will be the beginning, middle, and ending of the scene? What will be the goal and conflict of the characters? These details can be worked out away from the writer's chair.
- Collecting character quirks. When we're out and about among living, breathing people, we have access to limitless character traits worth stealing.
- Gathering setting details. Parties, ceremonies, restaurants, malls, theme parks. These events and places are ripe with setting information. If we keep paper and pen with us at all times, we can scratch down sensory details for later use.
- Ideas for the next project. Ideas swirl through our heads when we're performing menial tasks away from our manuscripts. All we need to do is reach out and grab them, saving them for when we're ready to plot the next book.
The "boys in the basement," as Stephen King calls them, never stop working. Solutions and ideas come to us when we least expect them. Besides, when we're away from the page, we're refilling our creative wells.
While I was wearing my busy mommy hat, I was able to untangle at least two of my problematic story issues. What writing tasks do you accomplish when you're not writing?