Writing is like hiking

Today my wife and I went on our first hike of the season.  It has been so rainy the past month or two we could never find the right time get out.  During the hike I thought how much writing is like hiking.

The Best Time

We started on our hike at 1:30 in the afternoon with the temperature around 90 degrees.  For us it probably would have been better to start our hike in the morning when the temperature was around 70 degrees.  Like hiking, there is probably a better time than others for you to write.  Is your creative energy better early in the morning, in the afternoon or late at night?  Try writing at different times to see which one gets your creative juices flowing.


Know Where You Are Going

When I start out on a hike I know where I am going.  I research the trail so if I come to a fork I know which leg to take to stay on the trail.  Writing is the same way.  Many writers, myself included, write a detailed outline of the path their book will take.  Other writers write a simple outline while others seem to just fly by the seat of their pants.  But all writers have a “map” of where their story is going either in their head or detailed on paper.  This doesn’t mean you can’t explore the other leg.  If it feels right you can and should.  With your “map” you can always find your way back to the main path of your story.



Look Beyond The Trail
When we are hiking we love to take pictures along the trail.  Because of this we are on the lookout for what we might find as we hike.  Once we found a turtle in the middle of the trail, well, that was kind of hard to miss even if we had our eyes glued to the trail.  Another time it was flowers in bloom.  Susan even saw a bear bound across the trail in front of her.  Today we saw lots of fungus in all shapes and colors.  All these things add depth to the experience of hiking.  If we just kept our eyes on the trail and didn’t look around the hike would still be nice but we would have missed a lot of things.  The same way with writing, don’t just keep yourself focused on the outline or path you had set your story on.  Look around, stop and listen to your characters and try to hear what they are saying or see them in a different light.  Maybe they are trying to tell you that their actions aren’t true to their character or your story.  Maybe one of your characters is shouting out to be heard; he or she was mentioned once but then never heard from again.  What are your characters are up to?  Like when hiking, look a little beyond the path you set, you may discover more depth in your characters.






Know When To Stop

Today’s hike was a fairly steep and hard one, especially for Susan.  About 1½ hours into the hike she said, “Sorry to be such a wuss, but I need to turn around and head back.”  With writing, know when to say “enough.”  There is no sense in just staring at a blank screen if the words won’t come.  Stop, then “turn around” and come back to it another time.

I have always loved the outdoors; it clears my head and rejuvenates me.  Today was no different.  Now that I am back home I can once again tap into that creative energy and continue writing Blue Ice, the second book in my Colors of Alaska trilogy.


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