Does a Plan Destroy the Fun?

Are you a planner or a spontaneous adventurer?

I’m all for spur-of-the-moment decisions; I’d just like to know when to expect them.  I have things I might need to pack and I might have to change my shoes.  Heels don’t take me very far on the hiking trail and boots are too hot for the beach.  I just need to know, thank you very much.

In my writing life, however, I’ve always leaned toward spontaneity.  I want the surprises, the shocks (my character just said what?!), and the joys of serendipity.  I love the journey of knowing where I’m headed, but not necessarily how I’m going to get there.  Yes, I have an idea of the major roads and highways, but I leave room for the occasional dirt road or hidden trail.  That’s where magical things happen–the horse that comes galloping out into the field and my practical, responsible character (a planner) suddenly leaps onto his back and takes off down the dirt road leaving nothing but dust and grit in the air behind her.  fairy. 1Or my character veers off the trail to follow the sound of melodic bells, tinging in the distance, and discovers that she is in the middle of an actual fairy forest.

These are the moments a writer lives for.

Now that I’ve written this way for years, I’ve decided to experiment by writing the way I live—planning.  If I plan the architecture of the story, will any of the rooms excite me, surprise me?  Or will the planning leave little space for those magical moments to appear?  What do you think?

I know one thing for sure—-by planning ahead, my character will always have on the right shoes.  She’ll be ready for anything.  And that’s what worries me.


The Jasmine’s in Bloom

Jasmine flowerSomething happens to my spirit when the jasmine blooms.  Spring isn’t my favorite season, thanks to pollen, but when that climbing vine begins to open its petals, bursting out in white star-like blooms, the air magically transforms from my enemy into my muse.  I smell that sweet, exotic fragrance and I forget everything else.  The world stops and all I can do is pay rapt attention to what the jasmine tells me:  Life is good.  Slow down.  Breathe.

The jasmine is what it’s all about.  Be sweet.  Even if you only bloom once a year, make it spectacular.  You don’t have to create something over-the-top to get noticed.  What you exhale out into the world is what matters–make it beautiful.   Sometimes the simplest thing is the most profound.  Patience is required.

The blooming of the jasmine, like so many other rarities, is worth waiting for.  Only this one, you can set your watch by.  You know it’s coming.  In my part of the country, that means every mid to late April, I can count on being shocked into awareness.  There’s that show-stopping scent again!  And I pause.  As I breathe it in, something in that smell calms my heart and recharges my spirit.  I’m grateful.  I’m at peace.

Life is good.  Slow down.  Breathe.