Everybody thinks his daughter’s pretty special and has cornered the market on smarts and creativity, but it’s actually true of my daughter. Really. She reads like no kid her age outside the Guinness Book of World Records and has a memory I really envy. Her ability to use context to understand the essential meanings of big words she has no real business knowing is dazzling. From time to time, she’ll go on little writing jags. After getting a kitty for Christmas, she decided to write a little story from the cat’s perspective, homing in on things like how funny it is to the cat that these strange people prepare a box for her to potty in and so on.
My wife volunteers once a week in my daughter’s second-grade class, and yesterday she texted me a photo of a page she had found hidden in my daughter’s desk. The page was from a journal we had given her on whose cover she has written dire warnings to keep out and drawn protective chains. So of course my wife looked.
The page in question was one of apparently many many pages of pre-writing for a story-in-progress including things like character sketches, plot summaries, important notes about relationships among the characters, and explanations of things key to the underlying mythology of the story (e.g. “sirens are like evil mermaids”). As a seven-year-old, she’s doing things she’s never been taught to do that I’m often not disciplined enough to do with my own writing as an adult who’s been exposed to such exercises.
I could go on all day about my daughter and the likelihood of her rise to fame in the belles lettres, but this blog is supposedly about providing tips, tricks, inspiration, and discussion to help the readers get to writing. So I’ll put to you a question: What kind of pre-writing do you do, if any, and how important is it to your process as a writer?