There are few things that this writer loves better than waking with a defined task ahead for the day. A satisfying practice, that. Knowing what the day’s work will be—especially at the end-place of the book’s demands—sets the mind squarely on its path. Knowing makes the writer focused and purposeful.

The best of these intentional days begins in the knowing that there is a specific scene to write…one in which the beginning, the end, the purpose are known; one that requires walking in the mood of the characters from the moment one opens one’s eyes. That is pure joy.

The next best are days like today: Two pages of notes appended to the beginning of the manuscript that want me to find homes for them in the story. Placing each in its just-right place can be a challenge in a tightly-constructed manuscript. Sometimes it asks for other things to be rearranged or discarded. Most of the time, the story is better for the change, richer, often in ways that only a very attentive eye would notice.

Other next-best days are the days in which the task is open-ended. The daydreaming days. The scene is there but vague. The brain wanders after it. Sit-and-Think days are hard permissions to win from the self who wants to see words on a page when the day is done. Slacker days, they seem to be–even though they’re not.

And then there are the writing-writing days. A chapter to finish, a direction to find, a progression to smooth. As good as those other days, but tougher to master. A knowing-not-knowing.

Best of the best days are the ones like these. The grey-sky days of intermittent rain. Days with a November chill and the pale light of coming Spring.

The fresh-made cup of coffee, the day, the words, and me. In the task, I am among friends.