Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Balancing Act

I've never seen the movie Mulan 2, but some time on the youtube directed me to the song "Lesson Number One," which I personally enjoyed. Mulan explains to a group of young girls that to be a great warrior one must find the balance between all things hard and strong and all things soft and weak. Think yin yang.

How does this relate to writing? Well, I once heard writing described as a socially accepted form of schizophrenia. That makes sense. After all, we all have lots of other people running around in our heads and we imagine worlds that are not there. Not to mention the fact that we're probably not sleeping much and we're trying to obey all sorts of conflicting advice.

Writers have to balance advice like "Plan ahead" and "Follow the characters where they lead." It is hard to know how to balance the need to have the plot structured in advance and to have to flexibility to change the plan when things do not seem to be working. It's enough to drive a person mad, I'm sure.

However, this madness is imperative to creativity. It seems to me that as Mulan tells the girls that they cannot be great soldiers without balancing tough and gentle, one cannot be a great writer without balancing preplanned, organized, and structured with relaxed, flexible, and open.

How do you manage your balance? Do you think a true balance is possible?


  1. I'm not very good at balancing, but life sometimes just forces it. You know, the "You have to do what you have to do" mentality.

  2. LW - I can understand that. Usually, I keep my plans loose so as to help my flexibility. On the other hand, sometimes I have difficulty letting go of things. It's a struggle for all of us.