What to do When You’re Lost

screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-9-44-13-amI’ve got a writer friend who advocates ‘being in the wilderness’. He talks about how it’s sometimes necessary to wander into a dramatic space where there’s no clear answer about where to turn. His theory is that there’s juicy material that comes out of that space and that you can’t mine it unless you wander into that potentially scary territory.

I agree. While there is something about writing that suggests that I should always be “in control” of the universe I’m creating, I believe my work is juicier when I find myself in territory I didn’t expect. This might happen if I’m creating something without outlining first (which I do with my plays) – or if I happen upon a moment in something I’ve sketched out that turns problematic. It might also happen when I’m writing something for someone else (say a script for a TV project – a story that someone else initiated).

So what do you do when you’re lost in the middle of an artistic project? The same things you might do if you were actually lost in the real world.

  • Find a map: Reading material that covers similar territory to what you’re working on can be helpful in finding your way.
  • Make a plan: Devising a new outline for your project could take you to a more focused place in your writing.
  • Ask for directions: Getting guidance, support and advice from other creatives can be the key to moving ahead.
  • Keep going: Taking off in any direction is likely to unearth a new sense of where you are and what might be nearby.  Continuing to write may shake something loose.
  • Stay calm: Solutions often emerge in the space of grounded serenity.

What I’ve discovered is that things always shift. If I’m lost in my writing or in my life, it’s temporary. Trust the flow and the process and you’re sure to emerge from the wilderness.
Drop me a line and share your experience around being lost in your writing work and how you made it back.

I look forward to hearing from you.

By | 2017-12-01T18:09:14+00:00 December 5th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Steve Harper
STEVE HARPER is a writer, producer and actor. He was on the writing staff of the Emmy Award winning ABC show American Crime (created by John Ridley) and spent two seasons writing for the USA Network show Covert Affairs. Steve's original web series SEND ME, about time traveling black people (writer, actor and Executive Producer) was nominated for a 2016 Emmy. As a playwright he has written more than 20 works that have been produced across the country. Through yourcreativelife.com, Steve has been working with artists of all kinds since 2008, helping them achieve clarity and focus in their creative careers. His specialty is working with artists as they write dramatic scripts. Steve has run workshops in New York, L.A. and in between. Through live events, online seminars, and his channels on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, he’s helped thousands of writers and artists. Steve taught for The Harvardwood Writers Group, Young Playwrights and The Creative Gym. He’s been an instructor at the UCLA Extension School and a guest artist at Interlochen School for the Arts, Drexel University’s summer program in L.A. and USC’s Annenberg School. A graduate of Yale, The A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard and the playwriting program at Juilliard, he was certified by the Creativity Coaching Association in 2013.