Posted by: Debbra Dunning Brouillette | June 16, 2010

Don’t Try to Control the Journey! Instead, Embrace It!

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.     —John Steinbeck

View from a hammock, Nevis, West Indies

I’m ‘fessing up right away. I have been there, done that. Tried to control things, that is.

When it comes to planning a journey to a new place, for example, I’m the ultimate trip researcher — some might say “over-researcher.” Before our departure date, I will have familiarized myself with the not-to-be-missed restaurants, downloaded menus, and read customer reviews. For our island journeys, I’ll have checked out the scuba diving operators, the dive sites, and local car rental agencies. I will have devoured any scrap of information I can glean from reviews on travel websites like TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com).

Is there a difference between being an informed traveler and trying to control the journey? I like to think so. I enjoy every minute of my research, and am convinced that planning and anticipating the journey is at least half the fun of the whole experience!

While I will never transform into the “free spirit” type of traveler who leaves with a backpack and an airline ticket to somewhere, agenda unknown, I am not too old to learn. Over the years, I have gained a new perspective about controlling the journey, which has allowed me to relax more and embrace it instead.

When we try to control our journey, be it a trip, or our all-encompassing journey of life, we stifle it, reducing the possibility of experiencing those inspired, serendipitous moments, thoughts, and events, which bring us to the edge of all we know.

“When you have come to the edge of all the light you know, And step into the darkness of the unknown, Believe that one of the two will happen to you. Either you’ll find something solid to stand on, Or you’ll be taught to fly!”    —Richard Bach

Does this mean we should embark on our journey without a map? Of course not! May we use a compass to find our way? Definitely! Should we have a destination in mind before we begin? Yes, even though detours may alter it, and experiences along the way may persuade you to take a different route!

In a similar way, word journeys must also be mapped out and have a direction. The writer must know where the words are taking him or her, yet be open to inspiration. Have you ever looked at a blank screen or a blank piece of paper and had no idea where to begin?

Some call it “writer’s block.” However, it usually happens when you haven’t mapped out your journey. You’re unsure of which direction to go, and you haven’t truly decided upon your destination. Most writers have found themselves in that place at one time or another but, over the years, I have found my own personal key to creativity. I have expressed it in my website’s (www.wordjourneys.net) tagline: “The longest journey begins with a single word.”

So, here’s the key, succinctly expressed in three short words: Just start writing! Type a word, then another and another, even if you think it’s all rubbish and not worth reading! Once you have released your thoughts and committed them to paper (or, more likely, your Word document – don’t forget to “save!”), you are on your way to unblocking, and restarting the creative flow.

Embrace the journey of the writing project — the article, the letter, the book — word by word. It’s all part of the creative process. Let the ideas flow. Write, and then read it aloud. Delete words or sentences that don’t resonate upon a second read-through. Add others. Save your work and come back to it hours or days later. Let it marinate, if you have the leisure of time. And keep in mind that you can’t totally control your word journey, or you may reach a destination that you won’t particularly like after you’ve arrived!

If your word journey simply never progresses from thoughts to reality, or if your ideas seem to be stuck in your head, and are never expressed in the way you think about them, there is help. Allow me to work with you to complete your journey, to accompany you on the path.

After all, journeys are often enjoyed most when shared with another. We can embrace it together, and once the destination is reached, your project will stand on solid ground, ready to be shared with the world. Or, who knows? Maybe we’ll be taught to fly!

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Responses

  1. Great article, Debbie.

    I can relate to what you’re talking about re just letting an idea marinade for awhile. I can’t write anything without several “incubation” periods, and try as hard as I might, I can’t seem to start anywhere but the middle and let the beginning find itself. Thank goodness we aren’t still using typewriters.

    Good thoughts to apply to real-life journeys as well. As usual, you have me thinking…

  2. Thanks, Jan, for all your comments on my blog posts. I am really glad that I have given you things to think about.

    I have one blog that is still “marinating.” It’s written but not ready for prime-time, so, until it is, I’m embracing the journey!

  3. I forgot to add that your “voice” really comes through in this piece. It’s a beautiful piece of writing.


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