When Writing a Novel, Not Knowing Everything is Part of the Fun

open roadWhat’s the best holiday you’ve ever been on? Chances are, regardless of what sort of holiday you enjoy the most, it would be one where you didn’t know the full outcome before you went away.

By this I mean you didn’t plan every last little thing before you packed your bags and set sail/took flight. You maybe had a rough idea, but even if you did do a little planning, there were still unexpected moments that made the trip worthwhile. It was more fun that way.

The wise old Greek philosopher Socrates was once recognised as the wisest man alive by the Oracle of Delphi, Pythia. It was probably a good observation. After all, Socrates was, well, Socrates, right? A smart dude.

Socrates responded to this praise: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”

He wasn’t just being falsely modest. He was stating a fact.

What does Socrates and the best holiday you’ve ever had got to do with your writing? Not knowing everything is smart. It’s a sign of confidence, not weakness.

As a writer, I don’t plan every last thing before wading into my first draft. I let myself go. Discover things as I go along.

I can’t recommend this mindset enough. Let yourself get a little lost every now and them. You can always double-back if you need to.

For me, it’s the not knowing everything that’s the fun part. I do a little planning, but with an emphasis on ‘little’. Just like Socrates, be aware that you don’t know everything. Embrace the unexpected as you go. Your novel-writing adventure will be much more fun for it, and it’ll probably be a better novel once you’re done.

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