You wake each morning from restful sleep. Somewhere beyond, you hear birdsong. You dress and take a cup of black coffee only to realise you are back again. Deep in the heart of the dark forest. The sky is obscured, there is nothing but the blackness of trees all around. And all you have are words. They are your blades from which to cleave the air. Words are your way out. If you do not use them you will be trapped. The forest will grow around you. Three hundred and sixty degrees of the same dense growth with no way out. You have no choice. One reluctant swing follows another. It is difficult. The forest is tough to break. You do not know if you are swinging in the right direction. But soon a path is cleared by the movement of the blade alone. Some light becomes visible. But doubt lingers. The forest obscures, the forest likes to play tricks. Sometimes you think you are traveling in a straight line only to arrive at the same, great fallen oak you started from.
This is writing. This is what I have done for the past nine weeks. I have swung the blade with over 75,000 words written, clearing the forest to trace a path towards the end of my novel’s first draft. I know I only have another 5,000 left, that at 80,000 I will reach my destination. But I do not know yet where the destination is. I have no map. I have not planned my journey. Sometimes it terrifies me, but quite often it exhilarates.
In the forest, you never know what you will find. You meet many characters along the way. Some will become friends. But things also hide and lurk in the recesses. If you are lucky, you may find a benevolent guide, a spirit of light to ease the journey; your load is lightened with their assistance. And then there are the tricksters. These attempt to block your progress, they put up the illusion of more trees — harder, tougher to break until your blades are blunted. But like all tricksters, it is best to ignore them. Continue to hack and swing, divide and splinter the wood, taking greater steps towards the end. And all the wonders and surprises that lay for you there.