Have you ever taken a wrong turn, literally or figuratively? If you haven’t, then you are in a lonely group of one.
In the case of driving, I have taken many wrong turns and they usually end with me being completely stressed out. I do not have much patience plus the fact that I hate to be late; so, if I take a wrong turn on my way to an appointment then I immediately become stressed. Murphy’s Law always seems to take effect at times like this. Why is it that my cell phone is always ready to die? Or, I have no signal at all. I almost always find my way, but by the time I get to my destination I am usually frazzled.
Figuratively speaking, taking a wrong turn can lead to good experiences. Imagine what your life would be like if you had gone left instead of right, had three children instead of two, didn’t accept a job offer at one place and decided to work at home? I think we all go this philosophical process at one time or another in our lives. But think about it, we are the sum of our experiences, so getting lost becomes a part of who we are at that moment in time. I don’t mean to get all Zen, but it’s true. If we hadn’t gotten lost down one path or another, we wouldn’t be the same person we are at this moment.
I have taken many wrong turns in my life, literally and figuratively. I have been lost many times, not knowing where I should go next with my life and often jumping at the first offer, thing, whatever, that came my way simply out of desperation. But, it has made me a stronger person, and I can’t get angry at myself for making a mistake. We all make mistakes. We have to accept them and move forward, always forward, without becoming bogged down with past mistakes, errors, or wrong turns. We always judge ourselves more harshly than others do, anyway.
What does this have to do with writing? Well, it has to do with perspective. Each of us comes at writing from our own perspective, our own point-of-view; but when you are a writer, you have to also look at things from the other person’s perspective. Take a walk in their shoes for a while and see what it might be like to be them. By doing this, you will have a whole new understanding of what other people are going through. So the next time the person filling your order doesn’t smile at you and then slaps the change into your hand, realize that it might not have anything to do with you. It might be that the person before you was rude to her, or she has a child who is home and sick and she is worried about their well-being because she can’t afford to take them to the doctor.
When you are writing, think about how the other person will feel when reading what you have written. They come from an entirely different background than you, and have had a different education, family, past, job, and lifestyle than you. You must take this into consideration when you write. Figure out who your audience is and how to write to them specifically.
Taking a wrong turn is okay, you may find a new audience or genre for your writing, but once you find that audience, you have to write to them.