Monday, November 16, 2009

When Writing & Driving Collide

Here’s a list of what driving has taught me about my life as a writer…

  1. When it begins to get dark, turn your lights on and stay focused on the road in front of you. If you allow your eyes to wander to other streetlights, or car lights on the opposite side of the road, you’re more apt to swerve off the road. Focus on the road in front of YOU.
  2. Remember to check the rearview mirror from time to time. You can learn a lot from where you’ve been.
  3. You can’t drive on empty. I’ve you’re feeling depleted go ahead and write, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to do whatever needs to be done to fill up (eat, rest, have an engaging conversation with your spouse).
  4. When it’s raining slow down by at least 5 MPH. When you’re bombarded with millions of daily interruptions and a handful of writing deadlines, it is okay to slow down and prioritize your life, including all writing projects.
  5. Don’t talk on your cell phone while driving. This reminds me of editing one manuscript while writing another. I prefer tackling one project at a time. Distractions do nothing for focused intentions.
  6. Stop at railroad crossings. It’s worth it to evaluate things from time to time. Forced stops can teach you to notice things you hadn’t before. It’s a great time to allow your imagination to go wild.
  7. Watch your speed. Remember to pace yourself.
  8. Use your turn signal. It’s nice to use subtle clues to alert readers that a change is coming.
  9. Driving instructors have great idiosyncrasies to use for your characters. Material is everywhere. Every single person you meet has the potential to be flattened and put on the page.
  10. Pump breaks while driving downhill. Drive fast over hills. Raise your hands up. Feel your stomach move into your chest. Enjoy the ride.
How have driving and writing collided for you and what have you learned?

*I’m over at Live Beautiful later today.
**I completed the first draft of my WIP.
Woo. Hoo.


  1. Hi Wendy!
    Good News! You won the Twillypop 'it's all about you' giveaway! Congratulations! You didn't specify if there was any particular style (names) of my necklaces that particularly struck your fancy. I know that you said you like the colors of nature, but if you have a preference of style, please let me know when you email me with your mailing address. Please email your info to:
    Congratulations and thanks for entering!

  2. What a great post. I've compared writing to many things, but hadn't thought about the lessons from driving.

  3. Ha what a great list! This is brilliant. You're clever and funny. I knew I liked you ;)

  4. WOOOHHOOOO!!!! And what a great analogy! This definitely gives me something to think about! Thanks! I had to put my WIP aside this month so I could edit my other manuscript. It's hard to let one just sit, but it's the right thing. It's too hard to write "divided".

  5. I like 2 and 3. Where we've been, all the experiences and life history we have definitely show up on the page, in one way or another. I guess it's an abstract way of "write what you know." And I definitely fill up that tank of inspiration from time to time, even if it's just a long walk outside, in the sunlight, feeling inspired.

  6. that's so true!! Wow - I never realized how much writing and driving have in common!! Thanks for the awesome list!:)

  7. What a great analogy! I especially liked the the turn signal description.
    I often tell my students that when they are preparing a speech it is like driving your audience around on a trip and the thesis is explaining where you are going on this trip. However,I had never made a connection to our writing. Thanks.

  8. Isn't it amazing how much of our experiences can relate so well to writing. I love how you said to speed up while going up a hill, and pump the breaks while descending. There's a lot of truth to that!!!

  9. Great advice for writing and driving. I agree with the editing and writing. I find if I do both at the same time, I don't do either one well.

  10. Great list! The only thing I'd add is to enjoy the scenery along the way.

  11. I like your comparisons! I find that I benefit greatly from using a roadmap (outline) before I get too far down the road. :-)

  12. If my writing looks anything like my driving, I'm in big trouble! It's sporadic, jolting and fast, lol...

  13. Fun analogy. I like number 9. There's material for our stories everywhere!

  14. Very cool post! I like the filling up part... I'm about to do that right now. LOL

  15. Love this post, Wendy! I especially like the feeling of rolling down the windows and letting the wind toss my hair and blow upon my face! In other words, writing brings me a great sense of accomplishment and pleasure!

  16. This was such an innovative way to talk about writing. I loved it! And congratulations on finishing your novel--you are awesome!!

  17. Uhh, why did finishing your first draftl only get a post script??? THAT'S AWESOME!

    Love the driving analogy! I drive the way I write - fast and furious! :P

  18. I'm an ex-cop married to a cop assigned to investigate traffic fatalities. I've observed this about speeding:

    • Speeding reduces the time you have to respond to the mistake of another driver or unanticipated road hazards. Slowing down reduces accidents, regardless of who's at fault.

    • Speed increases the severity of damage or injury if an accident occurs.

    • If you're in an accident or pulled over because you were speeding, you won't get there sooner.

    Life lessons: Slow down. Appreciate what is otherwise missed. Reduce mistakes and misunderstandings. If you really want to hurry God, cooperate with Him.

  19. I love that! "Remember to pace yourself."
    That's my favorite.

  20. First, congrats on the first draft! That's a big whoo hoo! Second, congrats on winning the necklace. I love the drive over hills with raised hands. that when "Jesus take the wheel?" Great post!

  21. Sara, Too excited to win that! Nice to wake up to. Can't wait to see what you piece together. Thank you!

    MeganRebekah, It's weird how the thoughts come. I wish I could take credit for it, but my thoughts have a mind of their own. ;)

    T.Anne, And you compliment. I knew I liked you, too!

    Kristen, You are telling me about divided. I'm about to throw out a little somethin' somethin' at the end of this comment that has my mind spinning.

    Joanne, walks outside and sunlight are big time tank fillers for me.

    Lauren, Neither did I until my thoughts spilled this post.

    Ava, And I'd never thought about it while giving a speech. Very cool how we can teach each other stuff.

    Eileen, You made me think of four years ago when my husband and I were on a bike trip and I had to pump it hard up the hills. Wouldn't quite call the movement I was doing speeding though. Guess this can't be translated to biking. :D

    Patti, I know and I'm feeling a zinger of an idea I'm about share...down there (arrow pointing to end of comments).

    Susan, Ah! Enjoying the scenery...nice add. And how cool that Maass commented on your blog. I'm still blown away by that.

    Rosslyn, With this latest novel I found it to run more smoothly having drawn up a map as well.

    Donna, Any ole time.

    Deborah Ann, Wonder what that says about my husband, THE TAILGATOR.

    Cindy, That was probably my favorite too.

    Jessica, You left us hanging...what did you do?

    Jody, Pleasure, YES! I'm a huge windows down type of gal myself. Hooray for wind.

    Jill, Okay, I liked being called awesome. I shall not lie. But I can say that b/c I know you know who is even more awesome.

    Beth, I'm a bit of a fast and furious gal myself (I'm liking using the word gal lately too). So? And about completing the draft. Oh, it feels so good. (But I miss the characters already.)

    Anne, All the more reason I need to wait a month. Nice tie ins. Add ons. Doohickies, whatever you wanna call 'em.

    Heather, I keep feeling like that's what God's trying to tell me and I'm the spoiled little kid wiht my hands over my ears stomping my foot, "I'm not listening, I'm not listening." Whallop. That was the sound of God (lovingly) knocking me upside the head.

    Karen, Oh, you are a wHoo hooer. I look forward to the necklace. I'd love to see your face when you do that!

    People, I have an idea brewing for novel #4. I know. I know. Please do not worry about me. I am going to write down notes. Make an outline. Perhaps research just a wee bit, but otherwise I'm going to breathe and take a load off. But, can I just tell's exciting. It's got the synapses jumpin' around like hot tamales! Now can I get a WOO HOO!

    Night. Think well.

    ~ Wendy

  22. Thought-provoking post! Congrats on your win!

  23. sometimes the driving is great - the flow of traffic allows me to keep a steady pace or the scenery is breathtaking and I keep wanting to venture farther and farther. Othertimes, it's frustrating and annoying when I'm stuck in a traffic jam and can't move. Everything inside me wants to move but can't go anywhere. Sounds like writer's block.
    I love your no. 5 - all of them great. thanks. Sarah

  24. I believe I drank some eggnog and wrote in my WIP. :-) Yum!

    I gave you an award!

  25. I enjoyed reading your driving analogy.

    Some days when the creative spirit is flowing freely I'm reminded of our time in Germany when Gwynly and I traveled on a section of an Autobahn where there are no speed limits. On those productive days I feel like I'm flying as fast as the cars that would zip past us in a blur.

    Other days, I'm stuck in traffic or encountering road blocks at every turn. And then there are times when I make a wrong turn and need to make a U-turn or stop and ask for directions.

  26. I love this list! I need to print this up. What a blessing; glad I stopped by:)

  27. Excellent analogy of driving to writing, and life, really.

    Numbers 1 and 10 are my favorites.

    This sweetly reminded me of things my dad told me as he taught me to drive:)

  28. I'm late to the party, but wow, these were great!


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