For a long time I didn’t count the pre-production work I do as writing. But late last year I realised I was wrong and that has made the whole process a lot more fun for me.
When I’m thinking about an idea I make a lot of notes. I’m onto my third (I think) notebook since starting to think about this fantasy story. The notes that I started out writing likely look very different to the ones that I’m currently working on. They could be different stories. And that’s fine.
This process is more than planning. It’s the development of an idea. It’s going down rabbit holes that might not come to anything and building a larger world that just the narrow focus of the plot. It’s building the forest that surrounds the path of the plot (as Phillip Pullman might say) and sometimes it’s fun to get lost in that forest for a little while.
I enjoy this playing stage and I think that it makes for a better final piece. Especially when I’m venturing into a new genre.
And I do count it as time spent writing. Even when I’m drawing maps. Even when I’m listing out names for potential characters or working out what they call the seasons or the days of the week. It’s fun, but it’s okay for writing to be fun. I don’t think I could bring myself to do it every day if it wasn’t.