Pre-writing By the Dawn's Early Light

I’m dimly aware of a truck passing along the road below me. Cracking one eye, I see the dark of night has given way to the grayness of early morning. I glance at my bedside clock and think how cozy and warm I am, how delightful my mattress feels, and how cool it will seem when I slide out of bed.

One thought leads to another and soon my current writing project is running through my mind. I let my thoughts wander over events I plan to write about, focusing on details as vividly as possible. As I rewind my mental video to zoom in on a specific scene, I realize the advantage of replaying the scene. I can go back again and again until I’m satisfied that I’ve attended to every available detail.

Suddenly I’m struck by the fact that some of these details are things I failed to notice at the time of the actual event. I have the advantage all these years later of moving around the scene, considering it from a dozen different angles, pre-writing until I get the story just right. I’m finding elements that were filed in memory below my level of awareness at the time. I continue to lie there, thinking of my story, what I want to include and what I want to leave out.

Words slide unbidden through my mind, offering their services as transfer agents to carry the image I hold so vividly into the minds of my readers. I select one here, another there, and the story begins transforming itself from pictures to words.

Now I’m ready to rise. I feel restless in bed, knowing that if I don’t reach my keyboard soon, all this good stuff will evaporate. It has a reliable shelf life of mere minutes. Yes, it’s definitely time to get up and write. Some mornings I’ll stop to make coffee before heading down to my computer. This morning I go straight to my desk, resisting the temptation to check my e-mail, which would probably distract me one way or another for nearly an hour. I open a new document and begin to write. The story flows forth quickly, with few hesitations or pauses.

I don’t wake up with a story in mind just every day. Not every story gushes out in this particular way, only the magical ones. But however they occur to me and whenever I write them, as words take shape, I use this same pre-writing visualization process. That engages my right brain, the part that notices colors, forms and feelings, nudging it into sync with my left brain, the logical part that gets the facts and relationships right.

Some days when I wake up without a specific story in mind, I’ll deliberately set my thoughts to wander until I find one, because that’s such a delightful way to think them through and an energizing way to begin the day. Maybe tomorrow you’ll wake up early enough to dawdle in your cozy bed, writing in your head before your fingers hit the keyboard or pick up a pen. Try it, you’ll like it!

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal

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