Aimless Wandering and the Pen as Divining Rod

It was sunny and crisp outside so I couldn’t help going for a walk, which led nowhere in particular since I didn’t really have any place to be. Observing the newly melted water glistening in the sun and the flecks of snow as they glinted in the cold wind was interesting, but there is also a certain amount of discomfort in not having a plan. I kept thinking: people are going to wonder what I’m doing! Why am I wandering aimlessly?

Later, when I was home and working on a short story I encountered a similar feeling. Instead of writing it on the computer I chose to write it by hand in a notebook. I didn’t stop to think hard about my choices or plot points–I just wrote the story as it came to me. In the end, I liked the rough draft a lot better than I thought I would and it made me think that part of the creative process needs to be this uncomfortable act of divining the thoughts from…wherever they come from. Even though it feels weird to not know where the story is going, I think in the end the picture becomes clear.

What do you think? Do you begin with the end in mind or leave it up to chance?