The joys of writing: Discovery

You know the story is working when the story is leading you, rather than you leading the story. Arnold Zable, author.

I’ve been pondering the question:  what are the most satisfying things about writing?

In a previous post I wrote about enjoyment I’ve had with the research process. (It’s on my ‘Books and Projects’ page if you’d like to see it.)

One of the  surprising pleasures of writing for me has been the process of discovery. I’ve had a general idea of my characters, major events in their lives, and where they end up (some of these dictated by the historical records, as my major characters are based on real life people from the 1800’s)

Within those broad parameters, it’s been astonishing, and great fun, to sit at my keyboard and have ideas just develop, as if from nowhere. I’ve heard some writers say their characters ‘tell them’ what they’ll do and say. I’m not sure that applies to me, but I have to say there have been times when, after writing for an hour or so, I have to admit ‘I didn’t know that was going to happen!’

As a new writer it’s easy to either get anxious about this, or get carried away by it. Overall I prefer to stick to my general plan, but it’s fun to allow a bit of leeway and explore roads and lane ways that open up unexpectedly. It doesn’t mean that all of these make it past the first draft, of course. But it’s fun, certainly.

I think I ‘m coming to see the writing process as more like consulting a map. I know where I’m starting, and where I want to get to. In between, I can take the most obvious route, but I can also take interesting little detours or twists and see what comes of them. Being open to the possibilities is the thing.

Kind of like life, don’t you think?

All about books, reading, writing - and history.


  • Will Rae

    I’m not a writer, and I envy you. I understand it is like most passions, it is not a choice to write, but an imperative. But I do let my mind wander, and I understand that unless I am careful, it will wander into things which I never anticipated. I have heard that emptying the mind is a risk, as it can then be filled with just about anything. But as a writer, it must be a great joy to write and allow your plot and plan to lead you into the details of an as yet untold story. Enjoy the life.

    • Denise Newton

      I think that anything that absorbs a person, that takes someone out of the everyday into another place or emotion, is an expression of creativity. That can be a profession, a garden, a craft, music, visual art, children, to think of just a few. All humans have a creative thread somewhere within us. The challenge is to find them and do something with them.So, when your mind wanders, follow it and see where it leads…

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