Monday, January 30, 2017

Flexibility--A Must for Writing and for Life

One thing I always tried to teach my son and my nieces and nephews is to be flexible. If an outing that was planned well in advance turned out to be cancelled by circumstances beyond my control (such as thunderstorms or someone getting sick), we went to Plan B and didn't have a meltdown over the ruined Plan A. This actually worked well in real life, but since we're talking about small children, it didn't always go smoothly. However, as they have grown, the lesson did sink in eventually,

Life doesn't always flow as smoothly as we would like. Things come up and plans, even long-laid plans, need to change to adapt to new circumstances. Sometimes it's short-term and the original plans can be picked up at a later time. Other times, however, it's a matter of getting used to the "new normal".

When I start to write a story, I have an idea of what's going to happen. I can picture scenes, details, even dialogue. But when I get down to putting the idea on paper, things sometimes change. A great scene I had planned out suddenly makes the outcome of the story different. Do I ditch the scene, or rethink the ending? That great line of dialogue suddenly sounds better coming from someone other than the character I had originally planned to have deliver it. Maybe I can leave it without affecting the rest of the story or maybe I have to tweak the story to make it work with that character speaking the line. Or I can eliminate that bit of dialogue and write something else. The point is that having the flexibility to allow changes to the original enables one to move forward rather than getting mired down in what was originally planned.

In real life, adjustments aren't always that easy. For now, my 90-year-old mother has joined our household. It may be an extended visit or it may be longer term. Either way, adjustments must be made. The day-to-day routine has to be altered to accommodate another person with different needs than the rest of the household members. In a way, it's not so different from having a new baby in the house.

In life, things happen. We hope for good things, but sometimes it's bad things, like a friend whose life was altered when her daughter was in a car wreck and lost mobility in her legs. Her daughter could very rightly spend her days in a funk--and who could blame her?--but she has taken this as a challenge and, no matter the outcome, that spirit of optimism, of making the best of her situation, which is so different from her own personal Plan A, will surely make her life and recovery so much happier.

It's a good way to go through life and I hope I always remember to face Plan B--whether in life or in my work, writing or otherwise--with as much enthusiasm that I had for Plan A.

Always keep looking up!


  1. The same thing happened to me when I was writing Finding Grace. Things would evolve; after I'd planned them to go one way, they'd go another. I did a lot of tweaking, too! I told my husband that I used to think the whole "the book wrote itself" line was malarkey--but I realized now why authors say that. I can't imagine being able to stick to a strict outline and never go off course.

    What a great philosophy for life, too--to be always ready to re-write the story. To accept God's will with peace and grace. Great post!

  2. WE've always had others living with us. Had my mom and dad for several year. Dad passed on, and mom ended up moving with my sister. We're raised 3 grandkids, had newlywed great-grand and wife with us for close to a year, and now a grand, her hubby, and their two girls are here. I wouldn't have it any other way.