Image provided by Tim Daniels
How many articles, blogs post, and/or chapters in books have you read telling you to always have ‘the big picture’ in mind? I can’t even make a wild guess as to how many I’ve read. It’s a lot, I can assure you. Most of these readings talk about the goal. That thing at the end that tells you you’ve made it to your destination. Of course there should always be another goal, another ‘big picture’ after that, because, after all, life is an endless series of goals to be sought.
I don’t disagree with having goals. Gazing on the big picture is bound to give me motivation—sometimes. Without pondering about the outcome of whatever I’m doing, how will I know how far away or close I am to the finish line? How will I know that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do?
Nevertheless, always reaching to see that end result and trying to achieve those objectives may have a negative effect. It acts as an obstacle rather than a motivator. It may be stopping me from paying attention to the details of where I am right now. It could be pushing me forward before I’m adequately equip to move onward.
It’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of how life is these days. The technical and digital world has me receiving information almost before I’ve requested it. The age almost demands that I progress in my endeavors at lightning speed. My one and only concern with this is I can’t process that fast. Even though when push comes to shove, I can find a quick solution to a problem, my normal speed of carrying out most tasks in my life is at a methodical rate. I’m not a speed demon by any means. Still, because of wanting to belong to the human race, I find myself propelling forward just so no one will gawk at me as if to say I’m less than they are. Yes, I know, a ridiculous way to perceive my fellow human beings, but true nonetheless.
My life journey is self-complicated by a feeling of always playing catch-up with everyone else. Sometimes I suspect there are others like me. I assume they’re the ones who didn’t win any of the races on field day at school and were eternally grateful for that one friend they had while everyone else was hanging out in groups. We are the “non-popular” ones. Popular people don’t need to play catch-up.
What is all this leading up to?
My writing, of course.
I need to get back to writing for the thrill of it. I need to forget about what word is the right one to use in order to make my story sell. My gosh, there isn’t any reason why I should be thinking about my story being sold, not until I get it all written anyway. I would be happier writing with the thought of just getting my thoughts down as they pour out of my soul.
Why do I need to know what the next three scenes are going to be about? Is it so I can write faster? I have a feeling that all that’s going to do is create unfinished details buried along the way, and anxiety I know I can do well without. Is it so I “know” what I’m writing about? I read somewhere that part of the fun of writing is the activity of discovery. I would say “knowing” gets in the way of that.
Oh, but what if I do go off the track a little, or even a lot? I can assure the world won’t end, not for you or me or anyone else. Maybe I’ll find another direction for my story by going off onto a tangent. Or maybe it’ll be the flowering idea of a second story.
Writing this, I’m beginning to see where I might have deranged my writing practice. Although creating outlines, diagrams, sketches, and summaries can definitely help a writer reach his/her goal, assuming that’s the only way I’m going to get any writing done is preposterous. The essays I’ve written that I like the best were penned on the cuff. There wasn’t much forethought to what I was going to write, how I was going to write them, or what angle I was going to use.
True, writing a book (if that’s what it’s going to be) is a little different. There should be a little planning. Still, I think my best bet is to stop trying to go “forward” all the time, and, instead, just write.
“Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.” ~Don DeLillo