The Pitfalls of Planning


Last weekend I went for a hike through a national park in Luxembourg with my family. The aim: to search out the waterfall that the large map at the entrance of the park displayed in all its majesty. The first part of the trail led us to this:

Yes, we were going in…and down… My only thought was, climbing down meant there would be a lot of climbing up later – doh! But I kept my thoughts to myself. After all, my in-laws are both in their late seventies and they didn’t grumble one iota. In fact they tackled those crooked steps with relative ease. 

And down we went. The roots of the trees were persistent in their attempt to trip us up:

We traversed through fissures and crevices formed in the rocks that surrounded us, and followed the small wooden signs nailed to trees, saying, ‘Waterfall this way’.
At one point, I did sigh out loud. I couldn’t help it.  At the beginning of the trail, the waterfall was approximately 2 miles away – easy peasy. When we reached the next sign 1,5 miles. Great! Progress being made. But then, after about an hour and a half of ducking and diving rock formations and descending into the depths of the unknown, another sign laughed out loud with its pointy end and said, ‘Waterfall, 3,5 miles’. Huh? Then I looked up:

 Even the sun thought it was funny!

We never did find the waterfall. But the adventure was such a thrill and the ending rewarding:

The journey reminded me of story writing: no matter how much we plan, we have to allow the journey to take us where it wants to take us. It’s a hard slog, but in the end we will get there, even if we end up in a completely different place than intended.
 
Do you stick rigidly to plans? Do you allow a story to take you into unknown territory?  

Comments

  1. Love the photos and the journey's end, Nicola. What a shame but you're right, sometimes we have to go with the flow (forgive the pun!) - you'll probably have a good story out of this.

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    1. It certainly did inspire and get the creative juices flowing, Rosemary. Thank you for popping by to comment. Lovely to 'see' you.

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  2. At least you had a nice walk. Maybe you'll find the waterfall next time.

    My writing is never planned - aside from a vague idea of direction and the ending. It's probably not the best way to write, but I'm usually to excited to start a new work to sit and plan it. It feels too much like work!

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    1. It was a great family outing:) I tend to work with a sketchy outline and go from there :)

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  3. Sorry you didn't find the waterfall. But it looks like it was a fun trail. Bring on those steps!

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    1. My legs had a good workout :)

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  4. Lovely photos and an interesting journey, even if you didn't find the waterfall. I like to be surprised when I write - sometimes you miss where you were going only to find something better :-) xx

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    1. Thank you for popping by, Teresa. I do love it when a character does something out of the ordinary or all of a sudden something in the setting changes.

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  5. sort of a treasure hunt, lucky you didn't meet some vile wizard

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    1. :) There were a few strange noises echoing around us, but luckily the wizard stayed away :)

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  6. Looks like a fascinating place to hike, but I'm sorry you didn't find the falls. When writing I usually know the ending when I start, but I'll allow space for twists and turns while getting there.

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    1. Twists and turns are great! Thanks for popping over, Tamara.

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  7. My wife is a planner...I drive her absolutely out of her mind with my mid-current shifts. I like spontaneity. What can I say.

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    1. Spontaneity adds a bit of spice to life :)

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  8. What a brilliant post and fabulous, atmospheric photos, Nicola. I really enjoyed this. And you're so right about planning. We can do it, but also be prepared for things to turn out quite differently. xxx

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  9. Oh how wonderful. Yes, I allow the story to take me where it wants to go.

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    1. Thank you for popping over, Karen. Glad you are feeling re-energised :)

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  10. That's why they have visitors ride burros down into the Grand Canyon. It's mountain climbing backwards.

    I am a strict plotter when it comes to writing, but I find that no matter what my plans are, my characters may decide to go in a different direction. The detours make the narrative work, usually.

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    1. I love detours :) I think that comes from the amount of times I get lost when driving. My sense of direction is rubbish :)

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  11. What a gorgeous place to climb about! As for the metaphor, I love it when the story suddenly strikes off in a different direction than planned. All kinds of exciting things happen then.

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    1. Very true, Lee. Thank you for popping by. Always lovely to 'see' you.

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  12. That waterfall hid from you. What a shame. I do love a good waterfall. I would moan and sigh on those steps set up to trip me. I can hardly get over the tree roots in my front yard. I do not stick rigidly to plans. I like to change everything at the last second or make changes as I go.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. We couldn't even here the water. Maybe it was just a trap :) It doesn't really exist :) Thanks for coming over Janie.

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  13. Looking back i'm sure it was a funny situation, but not at the time! Perhaps there's a guide you could ask next time.

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    1. Unfortunately, there were no guides. But it was a lovely adventure, nevertheless.

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  14. Hi Nicola - I must say looking at the photos - it must be an idyllic place to visit - pity about not finding the waterfall - another adventure to follow .. and yes all good plans are set, but mice and men can alter the lie of the land ... but it's grist to the mill and fun as we go - experiences count for so much ... cheers and have a good weekend - Hilary

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    1. Thank you, Hilary. The fun factor is all important :)

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  15. Oh no...all that and no waterfall?! We hiked to Roaring Forks in Gatlinburg--it was a hilly walk but not nearly as challenging as your walk was!

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    1. It was an unexpected obstacle course. But I did it! YAY!

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  16. What an interesting walk. Your photos took me there.

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    1. Thank you, Medeia. I hope all is well with you :)

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  17. Hello, Nicola! Your blog is amazing - particularly this post. You are right - sometimes we have to let life lead us, as opposed to trying to lead it :)

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    1. Thank you for visiting and spreading the positive vibes! Lovely to 'meet' you.

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  18. Such inspiring photo's and the stories you could set there! Love it! Sometimes those walks do turn into the unexpected adventure! Just as writing sometimes does, that's what makes it fun!

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    1. I do love an unexpected adventure :)

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  19. Beautiful pictures! With my kid, I don't think we would have made it far, but I would have loved to keep trekking onward. Though stairs, yikes!

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    1. Thank you, Christine. My husband was quite proud I did it without grumbling :):)

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  20. Oh yes I have plans - the kind that leave me with 3 miles to go after I've walked 1.5 miles of the 2 mile journey!

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    1. :) Funny how distance just gets longer, isn't it? Same with writing - the journey is far and wide and neverending :)

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  21. These pictures look like scenes from some sort of fantasy movie.

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    1. It did get the imagination flowing :) I was hearing strange noises and got jumpy from time to time :)

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  22. Omg! No waterfall at the end of that walk! However, having the family together makes it priceless :) The picturesque route is the added bonus. Cheers!

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    1. I reckon that waterfall picture was a late April Fools :)

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  23. It looks like a beautiful area, although they need to do better about their signs. I would have turned back when seeing those stairs. *shudders*

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    1. :) Normally, I would have thought twice but as my elderly in-laws were ahead of me and very spritely, I just couldn't :)

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  24. Oh, that looks like a lovely hike, even without the waterfall. Wonder where it went? :P
    I make plans and schedules, and after a few months they stop being inspiring, so I change up the schedules. I've been bad lately, though, only reading, not writing or editing...

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    1. That's a really good tip, Deniz - changing up the schedules. I think I'm nearing that point. Thanks for stopping by.

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  25. The lovely photos remind me of Whipps Ledges near Cleveland, Ohio in the USA. A dear friend photographed me and my husband-to-be there back in the day. So glad you didn't get lost like I probably would. :) Too bad you never found the waterfall, though.

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    1. Sounds like I need to visit Whipps Ledges - I do love natural scenery. Thanks for stopping by, Darla.

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    2. My pleasure! Thank you for inspiring fond recollection of swimming in nearby Hinckley Spillway with my first love. We entertained the lifeguards more than once. ;) Good times.

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    3. :) Good times indeed.

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  26. Great metaphor! I always make plans, with the flexibility to alter them if needed. Kids kind of make that a necessity, eh? In writing, characters can be even more troublesome than kids, but it's fun to see where they'll go if you give the leeway.

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    1. Thank you, Crystal. Kids certainly keep us on our toes :)

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  27. Great photos. Waling through places like that are perfect for getting my creative juices going. Hope they inspired you, too.

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    1. I was inspired - by my in-laws as well as the scenery.

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  28. Great story and gorgeous pictures. It looks like a beautiful *(and exhausting) adventure. Glad it was worth it. :)

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