One of the things I really enjoy about not having a day job is my ability to have my “thinking time.” For about an hour after I wake up, I like to lie in bed (especially in the winter) and think, usually about whatever I’m writing. This is when I daydream and brainstorm. I may see the movie of scenes playing out. Some of these scenes may end up in the book, while others are about getting to know the characters. I imagine the world and how it works. I may even dig into the history or backstory, all the stuff that happened before the story starts that won’t make it into the story itself but that shapes the situation. Sometimes I pick at plot details. Usually, by the time I get out of bed, I’ve come up with some good things I can use.
The great thing about thinking time is that I’m not entirely awake yet, so I’m much more creative than I’ll be at any other point in the day. Random ideas come and go, sometimes coming from something that has nothing to do with the current story. The critical side of my brain is still mostly asleep, so I can explore these random things without getting critical and telling myself to stop because that doesn’t belong in this book. If I sat down with pen and paper to work these things out, I’d never be as free-flowing as I am first thing in the morning.
But sometimes this lack of criticism means I go down some odd paths and get stuck there. This morning, I was thinking about my heroine’s background. She’s from a clan that makes woolen textiles — they raise the sheep, spin the wool, and knit or weave it into cloth. Their abilities in this area are somewhat supernaturally enhanced, so the cloth they make is particularly fine and in high demand. There are auctions for this cloth, since the supply is so limited. When the heroine gets the opportunity to go study in an elite institution, they make things for her to send her off. Most of it isn’t the super-fine stuff, since they can’t afford to use that for themselves instead of selling it, but since she’ll have to ride and wear riding breeches, her aunt the super knitter makes her some drawers (basically leggings) out of the super-fine yarn her mother spins. This comes into play in the story when the other girls are treating the heroine like she’s a hick, but then they discover that she has this super nice underwear even they can’t get, made from this incredibly soft and fine wool, and knit as one piece, with no seams to chafe. Then the other girls are torn on how to treat her because on the one hand, she’s working class, with her family actually working and making stuff, but on the other hand, they’re the source for this cloth everyone is dying to have, and maybe sucking up to her will give them an inside track.
But then I spent at least half an hour mentally trying to figure out how you’d knit leggings in one piece. There would have to be some grafting, but that would feel different than a seam. I was figuring how to knit the legs separately from the ankle up knitting in the round, then you’d join the legs on a circular needle, but there would be some increases and keeping the crotch area on stitch holders and knitting that separately before grafting it together. I finally snapped out of it as I woke up further and realized that I didn’t have to provide the knitting pattern and the whole point was that there was a magical level of talent involved, so I shouldn’t be able to figure out how to do this. All I needed was to have some really special underwear for the other girls to envy. But just the existence of the underwear and the role it plays in the way the heroine interacts with other girls was a good result from a brainstorming session.
I wouldn’t be able to do thinking time like this with a regular job because I’d need to get up and get to work. In my current situation, this is part of my work and is valuable time. It just happens to take place snuggled in bed rather than sitting at a desk.