Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I got a new toy: a GPS for my van. Which is great, because I am often dashing here and there. And this spring it seems I have quite a few adventures planned. So now I won't have to cuss Mapquest or stop on the side of the road to examine my poor beat-up atlas that is missing very important pages (like the eastern half of Tennessee) or, god forbid, stop to ask for directions. (I really like to figure these things out for myself.)

And it's got me thinking (of course) about my writing. I guess the GPS for writing would be the outline. You will find all sorts of opinions about this from all sorts of writers. For me, I find at some point, in order to plot a novel with effective narrative and character arcs, I've got to have some sort of plan or outline. But before I can get to the outline, the story has to live inside my head for a while. Like months or years even. Then I write a chapter by chapter outline and off I go.

The key is to leave yourself room for veering off course. Because how many times has the best most meaningful part of any adventure happened as a result of getting lost? I'm thinking every now and then with my new GPS I might just type in some random address and see where it takes me. Or turn it off completely. Then, when I'm ready, I'll turn it back on.

Same with the writing.

"A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving."

- Lao Tzu

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