This morning I’ve rowed for 20 minutes, had a shower, sat down to drink a glass of water for 20 minutes and made breakfast. I haven’t written a single word towards my story word count yet. But that doesn’t mean I’m not working.

Late last night I spaced out sitting in front of my computer. It felt like I was gone for an hour. It was less than 10 minutes.

But during that space out, I was riding on the deeper currents of my brain, getting lost in my current WIP story. I found a new plot development while I was there.

This morning I’ve intentionally been surrounding myself with silence, as much as you can surround yourself with silence when you have a husband and a five-year-old both on summer holiday and in the house. But I’ve allowed my brain that free-fall into white noise whenever I get the chance because I always come back with more threads than I went in with.

Does my mind wander aimlessly from topic to topic? Of course.

Are those topics all related to the story I’m working on? No.

But riding that roller-coaster of loose association, and with no expectations of what I’m going to come out with, allows my brain to make use of its full thinking capacity.

I’m talking about deep thought. Deep thought takes time.

And you have to allow it that time. Hold the space for yourself while you work things out. I’m not even going to be writing until Monday because I force myself to take time away from the writing precisely so I don’t drive myself into a dead end with it.

Time during which I can think about what I’ve done so far, think about what I could do with the story next, and assess if I’m still on a path that I enjoy.

So, when you say that “head writing” doesn’t count towards your story, that’s not strictly so. Yes, it doesn’t contribute to your total word count – perhaps not today.

But don’t underestimate the speed and power with which you can put down words when you’ve got a scene already worked out in your head.

When you’ve given yourself the time to daydream a better outcome and have gone over it repeatedly, tweaking the finer details in your mind, you’re writing a better story.

And remember that any goals you set yourself are arbitrary and fully under your control. You can change them.

If you find yourself in a less productive place word count wise, try setting a different goal instead, like uninterrupted thinking about your story for 15 minutes a day until the words come back.