Go wandering… Get lost a little…


Are you ready to lose the map?

I love road trips. Always have. It started when I was a babe in my mother’s arms and the minute the vehicle started I was in “happy-land”. I love road trips with no clear destination in mind. You know, those times when you get in the vehicle and just drive following the road as your only map. Travelling fuels my sense of adventure, exploration and discovering the great unknown. The best adventures don’t usually happen on the main highway. They usually happen when you take that pothole-ridden abandoned side-road. There’s a sense of risk maybe even danger. Your adrenaline is fizzing through your bloodstream. Anything can happen. It might not all be good but it will be an adventure.

So what’s road trips got to do with this post. Everything. To get very profound, life is a road trip: unpredictable, risky, mapless, pitstops unknown, destination murky and a complete adventure. But this is not a post on the profound meaning of life. That is for another day. This is a post about writing, story, creativity and inspiration.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

– Robert Frost

Writing both as a vocation and the act of writing individual stories is a lot like a road trip. As a writer, words are my vehicle and inspiration is my driver and gritting-your-teeth-clenching-your-knuckles persistence is the fuel that makes this trip possible. With writing even if I start with a map, I usually tend to veer off the main road and take that tempting side-road. Sometimes these side-roads turn out to be dead ends or cliff tops but the beauty of a vehicle is that it reverses as well so I can always turn back. But more often than not these side-roads tend to give me nuggets of pure gold. They give me the little twist in the tail in my plot, they work out that ugly knot you may have written yourself into and sometimes they change your whole plot into something even better.

I am on just such an adventure right now with my two WIPs. One of them is in the final drafting stage and the other is new and shiny and keeps on catching my eye. I had a map with the first WIP, all neatly outlined. But something was not working, some magic was missing. So I figured the map was holding me back. I threw the map away, refueled with some gritty persistence and took the pitted side road. I am about 2/3 way through edits and the characters are driving it. I stopped thinking and directing so much and just let them take the wheel. It does mean that Book 2 is going to change a little from the original map but that is the beauty of a side-road: Change. When you edit a draft, you need to tear it apart, change it up, stretch it thin and then do it again. You have to get brutal with your plot and you have to get brutal with your ego. You have to buckle up and just keep going, hold on through the rocky patches and speed wobbles but stay in the driver’s seat.

As for my new and shiny WIP, this one is going to be a road-trip completely off the map and off the highway. My creative synapses are sparking off major electric sparks of excitement. The story is gritty, the characters are raw and I am ready for this road trip. I am also ready for a new adventure. I do love the final draft WIP but I know what happens on that road trip, I have seen the destination in the distance. This new WIP is a trip into the unknown but so far the landscape is stripped down to that raw and natural beauty you find in a vast desert where the horizon seems endless. It is just the beginning of this story’s road trip and I have already thrown the map away. I am ready for the adventures these characters are going to take me on. My adrenaline is buzzing.

So what about you?

Do you love road trips?

Are you one of those people who has to have a map and navigator?

Are you ready to lose the map and get lost?

Have you ever found you had to change up the whole plot of your story, you had to get muddled to get found?

12 Comments

  1. Great post, both as a writer and one who loves to travel (I think many of us would fit both categories 🙂 ). I think we’ve talked about this before, yeah? While I like to travel with people, I definitely like travelling alone as well.

    Living in Montana was great for just finding a road and heading out (and also a little scary at times). Don’t get it as much in Utah (perhaps there’s something to that… something about people not being encouraged to stray from the path).

    And for writing, I find that discovering what happens along the way… often things I wasn’t expecting… is definitely half the fun. I don’t necessarily outline so much as write down a bunch of things I’d like to see along the way.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

  2. Hi Kim,
    Love this post! My 1st WIP i started without a map, I was very excited about the unfolding story. Then I got lost. I had to take time out to pull out a map. Now, I’m back on track, but the story never would have happened if I didn’t just drive off. I think this works best for me. I’m almost 2/3 done, and a shinning new WIP is trying to get my attention. I want to get to my destination first before I jump in a new car.
    Thanks for a great post.

  3. I grew up a military brat, moving every three years for my Dad’s next assignment. I lived all over the US and in Europe. In the summers we would go camping for a month, driving down to Texas and all the way up to Nova Scotia. I still remember taking the ferry to Newfoundland. I want to go back there because I am certain it will resonate with my specfic soul. I love to travel, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve also learned to love the joy of home. The security, the coziness, the way I can shut out the world and get some time to myself. Yet the wanderlust never dies. Mr. Aniko and I did a two week road trip last year, and it was awesome. We stopped where we wanted, including Savannah, Georgia. If you haven’t been there,Kim, I suspect you would love it. I really think you would.

  4. Wow, I absolutely LOVED “Road Trip” I am a writer as well, and I completely relate to your experience of writing. Life itself is an amazing road trip. I love to travel to unknown places, as a matter of fact I always travel alone and I have to say, I’ve met the most amazing people, had incredible exieriences; and learned a lot about myself and life in those trips. Change, freedom, writing, adventure and taking the road less travelled is what I’m all about. Thank you! For articulating so well how I feel through your writing and I wish you all the best in your creative prosess and your writing. :-))

    1. Thanks Maria. I am so glad the post hit the right spot for you. Funnily enough I am a big traveller and also always travel alone. Yes I agree you do meet the most interesting people and have the best adventures. I have always been a gypsy at heart. Funnily enough my Muse seems to be a gypsy too, he never stays on the main road, does not follow any map and keeps on searching out abandoned side-roads. 😀

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