There was a time I thought being a writer meant sitting at my computer for hours at a time tap, tap, tapping on the keyboard, producing pages of wonderfully crafted words. It is true I spend a fair amount of time at my computer but I have found I spend a lot of time just thinking. Sometimes I think while sitting at the computer but not always.
I used to feel guilty about extended thinking time, now I realise it is as important as the time I spend writing. Without the time to think, many of the words I write wouldn’t take the shape I want them to. It is during this thinking time I play with my stories, design how I want them to flow, what happens where, when chapters will end and where they will begin.
Although some of my thinking time happens at home, usually sitting in my sunroom, mindlessly watching the world go by; I find one of the best times to think is on public transport. I have taken a year off driving to work to see how I go with public transport and I find the time I’m on trams, trains and buses is valuable for creative thinking. Sitting or standing, I can let my mind wander while being chauffeured to my destination. I learnt long ago to block other travelers out and concentrate on my own thoughts.
However, I confess there are times I eavesdrop on the conversations of others in the hope of finding new material for my stories, or just because I’m curious. There are times I don’t have to eavesdrop as some conversations are so loud everyone can hear. Those are often the best ones. I am not wonderful at writing dialogue, so listening to other people speak gives me ideas of what to write. I even tried to record two people on a tram one day on my way home from work, their conversation was so weird I wanted to capture it. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise I had to save the recording and I lost all of it. If I do hear something I want to remember, I usually type it into my phone.
There are so many stories out there in the world! Other people’s conversations are a never ending supply of potential tales. Woven into my thoughts of my own work are daydreams of where the other people around me might be going. Perhaps they too are going to work, or maybe they are on holidays. I can usually think of a few scenarios.
For me, this thinking time is important – no, invaluable – for my writing.