Not All Writing Happens at a Keyboard

By Hope Bolinger, a professional writing student at Taylor University. 

One of the clients at the agency I work for has published 80-something books. An incredible accomplishment! She has an astounding number of queries out at publishing houses and has acquired multiple book contracts in this year alone.

Another woman I just met at a conference says she hasn’t written anything yet. She has attended this conference for five years and has many ideas, just nothing on pen and paper yet.

I consider both of these creators to be writers. Sure, one may have typed literally millions of words on a page and the other has yet to accomplish the first one.

But they both have spent time in other worlds in their heads. They have spoken with characters who may or may not have been chatty enough to provide backstory. They’ve mulled over three act structures and establishing just the right pacing.

One simply has worked a little faster than the other.

I think as writers it’s easy to compare our lack of accomplishments to the seeming productivity of others. We often view the actual writing process as something glamorous, when in reality, it looks a lot like making an Emperor Kuzco as a llama face at the computer (I may or may not spend more time looking at memes than doing actual writing).

And one part of the process we forget is the planning. The part where we actually spend time with the story inside our heads, replaying certain scenes and certain bits of dialogue over and over again.

That’s writing, too.

Sketching characters in the corner of your notes you take in class, thinking which number on the Enneagram your love interest would fit, cosplaying as your characters for Halloween . . . these all count as writing, because they involve creation, percolation, and experimentation with an idea, a world, a story.

Should we congratulate that client who has published almost 90 books? Of course! I can’t wait to read a devotional based on dinosaurs she just released.

Should we also reserve praise for the writer who I met at the conference who had yet to, in a physical sense, write?

Absolutely. Because writing takes a lot of work, and whether in your head or on paper, is worth telling, and worth praising.

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