I don’t wish to be misunderstood and have it believed that I don’t believe thinking is important. Quite the opposite. Indeed, part of the potency of writing is that writing offers organized thinking. The finished writing product is carefully constructed, ordered. It is architecture with engineering. What I do wish to distinguish is where and when that kind of formalized thought process occurs. As the cliché suggests, most of writing is re-writing. Revision takes a great deal of concentrated thought. Much of the work of revision is identifying relationships, ordering ideas, pursuing patterns, developing a cohesive, forward-moving, engineered text, only one where the reader can’t quite see all the elements of structural support. But you must provide the ideas legs and means of expression. You must have text first, and I am firmly convinced that over thinking a text before you have the raw materials will keep you from ever producing much of anything. It doesn’t necessarily take much to start or to move deeper within a text, not much more than the ability to see an image or a scene, although this does mean releasing control to the text rather than to the logical mind. That comes later and is equally vital.
We need writers who are clear thinkers. We need writers with ideas, not fluff. For me, the roots of texts exist in such vaguely formed and murky ideas that I must start with images or a character’s or narrator’s voice or a circumstance. It is THROUGH the writing that the ideas begin to clarify and take shape.