This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a writing process post.
My plan for last night involved me, my bed, and a good book.
It’s been a long week. We’ve long reached that point in the semester when both midterms and spring break have passed and the only thing worth looking forward to is a summer break that’s still over a month away. So yesterday I was ready for a night off from homework/revising/Ch1Con stuff/internship applications/job applications/blog post writing/etc. I was ready for tea and pajamas and snuggling under a pile of blankets.
Then around three PM my phone started blowing up with text messages.
One of my friends, who’s super into astronomy-related stuff, had found out the Northern Lights were supposed to be visible only a few hours north of us that night, and would I like to come along to see them? No promises how far we’d have to drive or if we’d get back in time to sleep before morning classes or if we’d see the Northern Lights at all. But there was the promise of adventure. And the potential of seeing something incredible.
So at ten PM I ditched the book, threw on my warmest coat and hat, and off a group of us went to traverse the state and chase something we’d only ever seen in photographs.
I didn’t know everyone in the car going into the trip, but we couldn’t get the radio to work so we ended up spending the entire ride north sharing stories about ourselves and our friends. We got lost on back roads and in sleepy silences.
The Northern Lights are easiest to see if you’re in a clear, dark place, so we dodged around lakes, searching for one large and secluded enough to give an unobstructed view of the sky.
Around twelve thirty, we finally found the perfect place: a massive lake in a state park in the middle of nowhere. We pulled down a teeny, tiny road leading to a boat launch on park grounds, ignoring the signs warning us that visitors weren’t allowed in after ten PM, and found ourselves in a parking lot that brushed right up against the lake with only a single orange street light glowing against the sky.
We bundled out of the car and walked as far from the light as we dared. We took in the absolute silence–the kind you only get at night in winter when there’s no wind and you and your friends are the only people for miles. We looked up.
No Northern Lights. But the stars were dazzling.
Hundreds and hundreds of pinpricks of light interrupted the inky blackness. The sky curved away from us, a dome for once not obstructed by buildings. We spun in circles, huddled close, pointed out constellations and planets. We took in our universe. We let ourselves feel small. We remembered we were parts of something so, so huge and amazing.
We went chasing the Northern Lights and instead we found the stars.
I’m telling you this story not because I had a really great adventure last night (even though I did and definitely suggest getting out of civilization to look at the stars once in a while). I’m telling you this because when I woke up yesterday morning, I had no plans whatsoever to go on a road trip in the middle of the night to the middle of nowhere. I wanted to sit home and get caught up on the books I’ve been neglecting. I wanted to go to bed early.
Essentially, the opposite of what happened.
And the fact that last night did happen, and I now have this story to tell you, proves that sometimes the best things not only are those you didn’t plan for, but are things contrary to the plans you did make.
So, how does this pertain to writing?
Don’t be afraid to change directions with a story. Don’t be afraid to make a bad guy good, or completely rewrite your opening on a whim, or start a new project. Don’t be afraid to enter a contest, or try out a new style, or totally destroy your protagonist’s world.
Make plans. Plans are wonderful. But don’t let them restrict you from writing the best story you possibly can.
And don’t be afraid to put aside working on your writing (whether it be actually writing, or just getting caught up on your TBR pile) every once in a while to have an adventure.
Who knows. Maybe you’ll end up with a new story to tell.
Thanks for reading!