Thursday, March 27, 2014

Different Strokes For Different Folks

Let's start off by pointing out an obvious hole in the Smart Writers article: It was a generalization, an over simplification that “starting your project by first knowing your ending point and using that as a beacon to navigate to,” would be the panacea for all writer’s block and aid the writer in succinctly conveying their message. The fact is, if we truly wanted to draw on a journey as our metaphor, we need to more closely examine that metaphor. Let's do that.
On a long journey (which speeches and written pieces can feel like to the author), having multiple waypoints is very normal. A driver needs to refuel, both himself & his vehicle. A driver may need to rest, whether it be at a roadside rest stop for a brief refresh, or a motel for the evening. Vacationers may also want to include various sight seeing locations and may indeed have multiple vacation spots in mind. In all these cases it is not merely driving to a single destination. Each of these stops would also be something that would be planned in advance.
Another very real scenario is the person who just jumps in his car having no particular destination in mind--they are just going to drive wherever their heart takes them. This can be exciting, refreshing, liberating, and mentally/visually stimulating. It can also be dangerous, especially for the inexperienced. They may end up "in the middle of nowhere," having no indication of where they are or how to get back to civilization. (I’ve “been there, done that.”)
This happens to writers when they find they've worked themselves into a corner and are unsure how to get out. In this scenario perhaps a hiker is a better metaphor. The reason is what an experienced hiker carries--this is our clue how to get out of our dilemma. They carry a compass. So where roads and other markers fail a hiker, the compass provides some guidance. Say for example the hiker is in the woods near the western shore. Obviously they must be east of the ocean because if they were west, they would be standing on the ocean. So the hiker would set his general course westward until he reached the ocean. From there, the coastal roads can be followed. (I am in California where highway 1 pretty much runs the length of the state.) The subsequent installments to this series will explain how literal journeys mentioned above can be applied to writing.

This article is part of a series. Please scroll through the Index to "Inspiration For Writers."

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