When Are You Writing, When Are You Not?

A Typical Hard Saturday Ride With My Bike Homies

From time to time, I’ve heard writers remark that if they were not actually typing material such as a novel or short story, they weren’t engaged in the act of writing. That’s a fallacy, and a potentially harmful one. It can cause the writer to believe he or she is not being productive, or perhaps is suffering from the dreaded writer’s block. The truth is that writing involves a number of steps, all of them important.

A case in point is my novels in the Sleeping Dogs series of politically incorrect thrillers that focus on the current state of world affairs. The books’ plot lines span the globe and involve a myriad of individuals—heroes, bad guys, and everyday citizens.  State-of-the-art weaponry and technology are involved. I’m no techno-wizard and I don’t have a background in military ordinance. But I necessarily have to include these items in my novels because they are integral to modern world affairs. Where I’m going with this is that I have to do in-depth research in countless areas—not just weapons and technology, but aircraft, motor vehicles, customs and cultures in other parts of the world, specific locations in places I’ve never been, and countless other topics.

Plus, one thing I really want to avoid is having my books read by someone who is an expert in any one of these matters, and them realizing I have no idea what I’m talking about. When you make it up, it’s just science fiction. Grueling research is the only way to avoid that. In fact, I spend about four hours in research for every hour I’m actually writing content. Much of the research is done online, but I also scour newspapers and other sources on a daily basis.

Few writers can just start typing without any sort of preparation and actually produce decent writing; the kind that sells. We first have to create the basis for the book. In my case, I develop story lines based on what’s happening in the world today, and where I think it could be taking us. Then, because I publish my novels in installments—four or five per book, I break the story lines down into those four or five segments. Next, I develop an outline for each part and create the chapters for each part. Initially, the chapters are just brief statements about who is involved in a chapter and what takes place and where.

Up to this point I haven’t written the first word of what will become the novel, but it’s all critical to being able to write that novel. The point is that “writing” a novel is much more than just typing words into a document. So, even if you’re not typing, you’re still writing when you’re doing research, outlining, creating the cover, formatting, or any of a number of other tasks that go into creating a complete book. For self-published writers, that also includes publishing at any number of online bookstores, publishing in print, and managing your ad campaign across multiple media.

© John Wayne Falbey 2017 All Rights Reserved