It may surprise you, then, that I almost never draw them.
I know, right? I'm willing to draw cheap puns, but not a map for my beloved world. What I usually do is find a map generator that lets me specify parameters and hit the random button a bunch of times until I find something I like. (If that's your style, btw, this program might suit you just fine).
I thought drawing a map would feel artificial. Like it wouldn't look like a map, or it would be too obvious that I created geographical features just to support my story. I thought I needed a map to be given to me, to "discover" the world in a more natural way.
So I would spend hours and hours searching for a generator and clicking "Generate Random Map" until I found one I thought I could work with. Not realizing that I knew what I wanted to work with the whole time and could've sketched it up in a few minutes.
I honestly thought I was saving myself time. The truth (that I'm only now seeing) is that I was afraid of doing it wrong.
When you draw your own map:
- It's faster.
- You get exactly what you want.
- You're reminded just how big a world really is.
- It doesn't have to be pretty, just good enough for you to write from.
- You don't have to be able to draw a straight line. In fact, you shouldn't ever.
- You get to revise.
I don't know why I thought map-making was any different.
Have you ever made your own maps? How did you go about it, and what would you do differently next time?