took the scenic route across America!
I spent a lot of time seeing beautiful country this past week. Not necessarily intentionally. I flew out to VA for a writers conference, and decided to drive back to Minnesota and stop at bookstores and promote my newest release Wild Montana Skies.
I got lost in Virginia seven times, Pennsylvania three times, Ohio twice, and Illinois once.
I did, however, make it home.
Every time I got lost, or took a wrong turn, my phone freaked out and went into a death spiral of rerouting. Rerouting, rerouting…
Which left me driving around unknown countryside, following my instincts.
I’m direction challenged and my instincts are not to be trusted.
Which is why I ended up in neighborhoods in DC where I passed the cleaners, the Jiffy Lube, the Shell station, children coming home from school and the local grocery mart.
I saw some beautiful country. Lush, rolling countryside boarded by bejeweled maple and oak trees thick with crimson and gold leaves, tucked away farm houses dotted with grazing horses. Peaceful. A moment to breathe in and enjoy the journey.
At one point during the dark night, as I followed twisty turns and over hill and dale I wondered if I would see the Headless Horseman throwing a pumpkin at me. I thought of a plot about a woman lost in the Virginia countryside, never to be seen from again.
We can sometimes feel this way when we find ourselves in the middle of our book. Our character has said something, done something unexpected and we’ve decided to follow the rabbit trail, see where it takes us. Maybe we like it…so we continue down another twist, adding another chapters until…uh oh. We might have seen some pretty country, but we’re horribly off course.
Just because you took a wrong turn does not mean you won’t get to your destination. You just have to back up and figure out where you wanted to go. What is the point of your story? It’s possible that you’re going to keep some of the things that you found on your scenic journey, for example a character, setting, a new piece of conflict, a secret that was revealed or even fresh spark of romance.
But at some point you have to pull up on the side of the road take a look at your goal and figure out how to get back on track.
Eventually I would find the highway again, and Google Maps would come back to life, as if I’d never been lost.
By the way, you can also add this scenic route into your character’s journey. There’s nothing wrong with your character getting a little off track or even lost in Act 2 and having to look at what he really wants, regroup, and get back on track, gathering in those things he’s learned along the way.
Just because you’ve been derailed doesn’t mean you will never get there. The key is to just keep writing.
In fact, getting lost isn’t isn’t too terrible thing, as I discovered when I was able to stop for coffee and a nice piece of pie.it gives you a moment to think through your story and figure out what it is your character, and you, really want.
Then focus in on getting there.
Writing is a journey…don’t panic if you sometimes take a scenic route.
Go! Write something brilliant. Because your story matters.
NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow! Are you ready? I wrote a book on how to pull your entire story together with one powerful question: The Story Equation. Pick it up at all your favorite online retailers. (and if you need more instruction, we have a mini-course in the Novel.Academy that takes you step-by-step through plotting using the SEQ).
PPS—This week in our Novel.Academy Peptalk, we’re talking about TRENDS in Publishing. Learn what’s hot, what’s not and how to use that knowledge to maximize your writing career! Check out Novel.Academy!