The first part of writing, when I am writing my novel, is reading. Or rather, re-reading.
Once I have overcome the inevitable, and probably necessary, procrastination, and sat myself down at the computer, and opened the file, and fiddled with the settings – full screen, or window, two page view, or one, magnification at 110% or 125% – I begin re-reading what I had written the last time I sat down, and quickly I am pulled in. I read the first words, the first sentence, back and forth, several times, and then take in the paragraph; move downwards and on, and back again, looking for connections, swatting out infelicities and duplications, tightening here, loosening there, watching as a new thought or insight circles in and lands on the page. And then I read out loud, sounding each word, each sentence, looking for simplicity as well as flow and music, weighing each particle in the balance. And only when the thing seems – at least for now, this moment – to have settled into some kind of whole, of pattern, do I begin the day’s work.
Depending on how much I have previously written, this whole process might take me half an hour, or an hour, but it is as essential as breathing.