We always talk about writing and wanting to be writers. Many, many people want to be writers or known as writers.
But what does that mean?
If we are writing fiction, does the time we spend researching background for our characters count? Do all of the words written trying to flesh out the setting count?
Or are we only willing to accept drafting prose as the true definition of writing?
Those are difficult questions.
Many of us do not have the luxury of spending hours every day writing. Our lives, both professional and personal, rightly demand our attention. Maybe we can spare an hour — maybe an hour and a half a day to dedicate to the craft. But there comes the point where drafting will slow, and the questions raised by the draft mount. We have to spend time, real time, answering those questions. Background must be explored. The invisible foundation must be built first by the author, even if the reader will never see it all.
Doing the foundation work is not slacking. It is not taking away from what is needed.
Drafting, putting words on the page, may be the easy part in this hard journey we are all taking.
The real work comes when our ideas have had time to form on the page. No one may ever see these pages but us. Those ideas may not find themselves in prose explicitly, but when you are writing the story, they will be there in the back of your mind, guiding you, and giving your reader the sense that what they are reading is only a glimpse of the world you created.
And wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?