Prewriting. I don’t do it. I open a page and start writing. How else do I know what I think? (I’m paraphrasing a quote from a famous writer whose name I don’t remember.) You can tell I do this on the blog every day.
But sometimes you look at your manuscript and think, fuck, I have nothing else to say. Then you have some options.
As I discussed with Averil, you can get drunk or kill yourself, but often these are very inconvenient. So there are other options.
You could read a book in the same genre to get ideas for flow, voice, and style. You can give up for the day and hope for better luck tomorrow. You can read a book that is tangentially related and mine it for ideas. You can go walk your dog/spouse/kid.
Or you can do research. You can go outside and sit under the tree in your yard. You can eye the mint under the tree for juleps later, but it’s too early for that shit now. You can read a book about [obscure topic] that you only barely understand.
Somehow that scholarly book is like poetry. Each line takes you so long to digest and think about that you have the space to have your own ideas and reactions to the information presented.
And when you look at your MS again, you still hate it. Even the font (your beloved Times New Roman) disgusts you. But you feel on fire anyway. When was the last time you thought this hard about something divorced from your daily thoughts?
[Spoiler: When you read Maggie Nelson’s Argonauts]
This reading is cracking my head open. It is prewriting. It is good for the brain. It is giving me the endurance to finish the fucker.
What have you been doing recently to finish the fucker?