Writing is a lot like driving a car.
I came to that conclusion while driving today. I had no particular place that I had to be, I just had to drive.
Well, because Saturday night I came home from work and all was well. Sunday afternoon I went out to go to work and all was not well: my car refused to start. Fortunately, my roommate had the day off and took me to work and picked me up.
Today (Monday) I called AAA and my car started with no problems once the jumper cables were on. Apparently I’m not driving far enough often enough for the battery to rebuild a charge from multiple short trips, so I went for a nice long drive today to get it juiced up.
But I didn’t have any place to go, so I just drove.
And it occurred to me that driving is a lot like writing.
If you just write with no destination, you never know where you’re going and you won’t necessarily know when you get there. That’s why I like to have an outline – it’s like a map (which, it turns out, I didn’t have in my car).
An outline is also like a set of directions that you print from the internet: they tell you how to get somewhere, point by point. Sadly, sometimes those aren’t the most detailed directions and you still get lost.
But there is yet another way that driving and writing are related: getting started.
I needed a jump start because I haven’t been driving enough. I have the same problem with my writing – if I don’t do it long enough and often enough, my creative battery goes flat, and then I need something like NaNoWriMo to jump start it again.
But then I don’t keep it up, or just write a few lines, and…
But now I know better, so…
(And, yes, I know that it’s technically Tuesday where I am now. But it’s still Monday somewhere…)