I dream of going on an adventure. In the same way, I dream of my finished novel. Both take planning ahead, and because some unpredictable events may happen along the way, it is important to stay flexible. I have found out over time that the anticipation is as much fun as the journey. So here are some rules applicable to both travel and writing.
Packing can be overwhelming when you try and plan for weather, different locales and unexpected events. It’s best to travel light. I have learned to lay out everything I may need and then leave one third of it behind. (Leaving room for souvenirs you find along the way.)
Same with writing. It’s best to limit your writing to a few important ideas than to try and pack everything into your novel. Those frivolous items in your suitcase take up valuable space. Same with unwanted prose that doesn’t add anything meaningful, but fills space on the page. Edit, edit, edit.
So you are on your journey and the unexpected happens. There is some kind of mishap (I’ve gotten sick on trips. Missed touring Moscow’s Red Square with my hubby.) It’s best to be flexible. I learned room service is great and then there was time for writing. On a tour in England, there was a fire in the hotel we were at, forcing us to evacuate in the middle of the night. We were allowed back to our rooms after several hours, but in the meantime were treated to a serendipitous midnight bus ride through the countryside. All decked out in our PJ’s. (rule # one for packing. Make sure you pack cute pajamas.)
Have you left room for surprises that are bound to happen in your story? Can you turn them into a new adventure for your characters. I’ve found that when things are sailing along without any excitement things could get boring. People forget boring.
The memories of trips do not come from perfect sailing. It’s the unexpected things I most remember. I’ll never forget the midnight bus ride clad in PJ’s. I won’t forget touring an Aztec temple and succumbing to the heat and being rescued with ice Mexican cold beer the bus driver gave me from his own personal cooler. (Hopefully this was for the end of the journey.)
When your stories get bogged down in dullness, give in to the muse that wants to take you off on the next adventure. Let your flight be full of fancy.