Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where Are We Going, Anyway?

Sometimes I wonder how it will feel to get in the car and drive with no destination in mind.

I wonder if my skin will tingle as the wind brushes against it.

I wonder if my eyes will sting as I catch a glimpse of my blindingly white teeth in the rearview mirror.

Wait a second. Reality check.

Fuel is expensive. And my teeth are not blindingly white. Both good reasons to stay home. Or worse yet… plan my destination. (Dentist, anyone?)

You probably see where I’m headed with this. Many of us start down Writing Road with no destination in mind. We write because it awakens something inside of us. It stirs our passions. It compels us to adventure.

About 30,000 miles down the road we wake up broke, tired, alone, and worse yet – with our coffee-stained teeth smiling back at us in the rearview mirror.

Nothing’s changed… except the scenery. We ended up in Plano when we’d hoped for the Rocky Mountains.

The adventurers out there are angry with me right now. What’s wrong with a good road trip? they ask. Don’t you know that planning takes all the fun out of it?

I’m not asking you to plan every detail of your writing-trip. In fact, I’m not even asking you to take the GPS. I’m only asking you to glance at the map. Because whether or not you know it, you have a destination in mind:

You want to be the crazy-best writer you can be.

So whaddya say? You can wind your way aimlessly around the continental writing world and hope that maybe – just maybe – you’ll arrive at that place.

Or you can use the tools of people who have already traveled this road. (I’ll post several of my favorite "maps" for non-fiction writing at the end of this post.)

Come on. Grab your passions.

Your awakenings.

Your adventures.

And your map.

We’re going on a road trip.

Oh… and don’t forget the Crest white strips.


Writing "maps" that have put me somewhere between Plano and the Rocky Mountains:

Book Proposals that $ell

Writer to Writer




  1. Great analogy! Very encouraging post, BJ!

  2. Such a neat way to look at it! I love this! :)

  3. What a great post, BJ! I loved this. It was very inspiring. :)


  4. As an uber-planner, all I can say is that I love this metaphor! My narrow little mind has never quite been able to wrap itself around those wonderfully carefree personalities who seem to think road maps are a speed bump on the road of fun. For me, planning is a necessity - and even a huge reward in itself!

  5. Thanks, CJ, Erynn, and Debra! :) You girls are too sweet.

    KM - I come from the speed bump mentality, unfortunately, and have to force myself to look at the map. Journalism school did that to me too. Very rigid... but I've discovered how beneficial road maps can be.