Thinking Like a Writer





“A drawing is just a line going for a walk.”

Chalk on bathroom wall in café

Write a Book About Your Business is a class I’ve taught through the Small Business Administration in San Francisco. Recently, I was wrapping up a session with four highly motivated and productive businesswomen. Their lines of business were finance, restaurants, gymnastics, and education. Five minutes before we were scheduled to wrap up, a fifth woman entered and disrupted our space to the extent that I had to ask her to leave. I was shaken by this experience and had the following thought about two hours later:

Everyone who speaks wants to be heard.

As a writer, I think in the language of writing. The disruptive woman became a character who insisted on being heard. This connection has made me contemplate when this shift happened—the one that turned thoughts into full-blown descriptions of people, places, and things. In other words, was there a precise moment when adjectives and adverbs took over? Would the disruptive woman be merely a woman to someone who does not write?

Thinking in the language of writing is similar to learning any other idiom. At some point, one ceases word-for-word translation and thoughts flow so fluently that the training wheels fall off. The thought, “I’m writing a story,” dematerializes. Somehow, the narrative voice speaks specifically through paragraphs, dialogue, and chapters.

Readers, please feel free to share your positive thoughts at the bottom of this page.