Writing is a process. In the past two weeks, I've sold two articles (one just this morning!) and they were alike in that they both required a lot of thinking before I actually wrote them down. I don't have the luxury of a certain time of day I can set aside for writing. I have eight children and am still home schooling my youngest two, so their needs come first. Even though five of my eight have grown and left home, they call, text and email frequently to talk to their mom, so I'm still in demand in their lives. (I'm so glad!) Anyway, I say all that to emphasize that my writing does not have a schedule or predictable time-table. I have to write when time allows. The rest of the time, I do my thinking.
Thinking is part of the pre-writing process. Many times, I'll think on something for a few weeks and when I finally find time to sit down and write it down, it comes easily. I sold an article two weeks ago that took a total of 20 minutes to write, but weeks to think about. It sold on first draft, but, in my mind, it wasn't really first draft at all because I had thought it through so long and thoroughly.
Pre-writing is anything you do before you actually write. It includes but is not limited to: