Saturday, February 4, 2023

How Writing is Like a Journey

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

Lately, I’ve been thinking about going on a trip. Maybe it’s because conference time will start soon. Or maybe it’s because my family needs to get away for some relaxation. Or, most likely, because the weatherperson says that a cold front is coming and I’m sick of cold, rainy weather.

There are many reasons we go on trips: relaxation, business, exploration. And there are many reasons that we write.

If you’ve read many of my earlier posts on this website, you know I often compare taking a journey to writing. The similarities are numerous. But I’ve never looked at how the steps in each are comparable.

Five Steps in a Journey and in Writing

1. Planning

Before you start on a journey, you need to plan your trip. Where are you going? How many days will you be gone? Are you staying in a hotel or a tent or an RV? Driving, flying, or cruising?

The same is true in writing. Before you start, you need to decide whether you’re writing a poem, a devotion, an article, or a book. What resources/knowledge do you need and how long do you think it will take?

Maybe you don’t have a deadline, then you need to decide when you will write. A couple of hours a day, a couple of days a month, or anytime you can catch a couple of minutes like during your child’s soccer practice

One truism about time, if you don’t plan how to use it, it’ll just disappear.

2. Packing

I hate to pack. So, I usually wait until the last moment. However, when I’m off somewhere, I enjoy knowing I have everything that I might need.

For a writer, packing is all the unappreciated work that you need to do so you can write your best. It’s learning the craft. Learning your genres. Learning grammar. The lifelong prep work that a writer needs to do to get the most out of their writing.

I call it packing because you don’t fully appreciate what you have until you need it. It’s like packing a sweatshirt and needing it for a surprise cool evening at the beach. By knowing the craft of writing, and the expectations of your readers, it’s easier to complete your story.

(If I was a teacher, I would continue with the alliteration. But I’m an author, so I need to throw in a twist.)

3. Destination

Whether traveling or writing, it really helps to know where you’re going. You need to prepare and pack differently whether you’re going to a cottage on the beach, a ski villa, or flying across the Atlantic to Paris.

And the same is true with writing. Are you writing a story to share with your family and friends? Do you plan to self-publish and sell it on Amazon? Or will you try to get a traditional publisher to buy your book? Each of these is an impressive accomplishment. And each of them requires a very different set of skills.

There is another destination to consider. Do you want to write one story or several? Some people become so consumed with a story that they need to share, and that’s it. And then others enjoy, or at least come to appreciate, the process, and either have many stories in their heads or are always looking for them.

4. Serendipity

You have a plan. You’ve departed for your trip. But don’t become so focused on your destination that you miss the other sites along the way.

A beautiful mountain vista at a pullover beside the road. A colorful sunrise or sunset. The world’s largest mushroom. Paul Bunyan’s blue ox. Or an actual shopping mall.

Writing is often like that. No matter what you write or how you grow, there are other opportunities that will pop up. Maybe you have always written for blogs, but you can use those same skills to write articles for magazines, newspapers (they still exist), and journals. If you have your own blog, maybe you can guest write for a friend or a website you frequent.

Or, since you’ve learned the craft of writing, have you thought about teaching? Either a class or mentoring someone.

5. People

(I know. I went back to the alliteration. Like a brilliant author, I held back a final twist.)

One of my favorite things about going on a trip is the people I meet. It could be old friends I’m visiting, friends I’ve met before at a writer’s conference, or people that I run into that I’ve never met before.

I think this is especially true for writers when we meet other writers at a conference, a retreat, or just out. Many of us tend to be more introverted and meeting new people may cause a case of the hives.

But as Edie likes to remind us at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, the people we meet there are our tribe. They are writers, too. They understand us. They can appreciate the blank look that sometimes cross our faces, or that we may ask for prayer for someone who we forgot is a fictional character in one of our stories.

As she says, “They get us.”

Traveling and writing. Both of them add so much to life. They offer us new opportunities and new relationships. And these five steps show us just how fulfilling they can be.

Do you have a trip coming up soon?


Tim Suddeth is a stay-at-home dad and butler for his wonderful, adult son with autism. He has written numerous blogs posts, short stories, and three novels waiting for publication. He is a frequent attendee at writers conferences, including the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and a member of Word Weavers and ACFW. He lives near Greenville, SC where he shares a house with a bossy Shorky and three too-curious Persians. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter, as well as at and


  1. Loved the comparison between writing and taking a trip. Wintertime gives me those travel-bug feelings, too. Sometimes it's to a warmer place, but because I live in south Georgia, sometimes it's to an even colder place, because I'm jealous of the "winter fun" that snow brings to those who live north of me!! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hallmark makes a snowstorm look inviting, doesn’t it?

  2. Yes, writing is a journey. There are ups and downs. Knowing God is with us during each writing moment can bring comfort.