I’d love to watch another writer, undetected, at the beginning of his or her writing day. When does the actual writing begin? I’m certain it’s not at the keyboard.

For me, the writing day begins in bed, while I’m still sleeping. A thought hits me, and then I wake up with it, and everything starts coming together in fits and starts throughout the day.

I’m a fidgeter. I bounce my knees, open and close my hands, pace around the kitchen, and organize drawers. Initially I’m a disorganized doer. It’s during those disorganized moments of action that organized thoughts begin to form in my mind. If I continue fidgeting or puttering, the ideas will leave me.

When a deadline is looming (as it always is), I fidget and putter a while, doing seemingly mindless tasks while mentally thumbing through bits and pieces I’ve gathered for the assignment. Conversations and interviews, books and articles, concepts and ideas. It seems like evasion, but it’s really preparation. Eventually, it hits me. A sense of purpose or an overarching theme. A reason to write.

Then it’s time to drive or run. If I have somewhere to go, I drive. If not, I run. And it’s while I’m physically going somewhere that my thoughts start going somewhere as well. The theme turns into a lead or hook. Related ideas form into topic sentences. By the time I get back, I have a place to start and a pretty good idea where I’d like to end up.

That’s when I start to type. I know what I’m looking for in my notes, because a simple outline is already in mental place. To some degree, my conclusion is dictated by my starting point. I recognize it when I turn the last corner and slow down to a stroll.

Then I smile and realize this thing was written long before I started. Call it creative inspiration. I call it answered prayer and having a plan. Go ahead and give me the blame but not the credit. I’m OK with that.