Finding The Trail


For me, the worst part of a project is when I write myself into the woods. I’ll sit reading and re-reading what I’ve got, trying to figure out where I went wrong, when the story got lost, and flounder around looking for a way out. Do I create new scenes to address the problem or will they feel too forced? Do I kill half my darlings and weep for a day, then start over? I get so bogged down in what’s there and broken that I can’t figure out how to move forward. This leaves me uninspired and less likely to write. Without a plan, I’m stuck.

Yesterday a friend introduced me to a website. It’s called breadcrumbs, and the idea is this: you read something, you choose a phrase or image from what you’ve read, then you create something completely new from it. At the site, you can follow these creations (the “breadcrumbs”) and read them all. You can also submit your own.

I’ve certainly got plenty of books full of Post-it notes highlighting phrases or quotes that made me swoon. But to take one of these and create something new from it? Brilliant. Even if I am mid-project, I can likely use one of these breadcrumbs to start writing again.

As in life, when looking forward with excitement instead of backward at mistakes, we stay in motion. Can something new help me find my way when I’ve gotten lost and don’t know which way to turn next? Perhaps. At the very least, it will keep me writing. By starting a fresh page or scene with something great in my mind, I can follow that thought and see where it leads.

All writers get stuck. The key is to find ways to shake things up, and play with new concepts that can help us get unstuck.

How do you find your way out of the woods or get unstuck with your writing?

One thought on “Finding The Trail

  1. I love this phrase of writing ourselves into the woods – that is pretty common for me, especially since I don’t usually have detailed outlines. So much tangled brush and roots! Having those other outside writings can definitely help!

    Liked by 1 person

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