Lots of imagery for today.. so here's a couple visual aids. :)
I've heard, and experienced personally, that writing is a lot like swimming in the Ocean. Sometimes you are swept away by the current of your story, the words flow forth and all you can do is try to get them down as fast as you can.. other times the current slaps you around and knocks you backwards where you feel like you're losing ground on where you were. And other times, the water is so still that it seems like you're treading water in a bathtub and there's no wind or landmarks to give you any chance of getting your bearings.. you're left adrift with no real direction.
I've been sort of experiencing something like that recently, I've been considering new directions for a couple of scenes and chapters in my current project, and it's got me floating directionless a little. I can go any direction, but I'm not sure what impact changing will have, and if I do change, how does that alter my MC's personality, or perceived personality.. I know how he is, I feel like I can sit down and talk to him, actually I feel that about all the characters I've identified in this project. So I've been hesitant to just take them and throw all that I know about them all up in the air and see where it lands. I think the results could be interesting, but it would also fundamentally change my storyline, and I'm not real excited about that. I actually really like my story, and I'm very interested in seeing where it goes. I've got an outline.. but I am not one of those 'stay with the outline' at all costs sort of writers.. I will often change directions mid-stream, so long as it doesn't totally trash everything I've been working on.
So, I think I've reached an epiphany of sorts, it's not that I have no direction, it't that I've strayed so far from the rock solid shore of my story that I'm out in an ocean of possibilities. There are times when I think that being free of any direction are good, brainstorming or free writing is a lot like that, when you can just go in any direction and change at a moment's notice. I've had some of my most personally profound 'a-ha' moments when I've been unfettered like that.
However when you've actually decided on a story, on a direction to go.. I think that going too far from your base can leave you lost and floating like my imagery here.