How to Never Get Lost
I get lost. A lot.
It's my directionally challenged way of life. This was especially true before the days of Waze.
My wife is the opposite of me. She can magically sense which way to go. She's amazing.
Sometimes Reneè and I would drive around a new city, and neither of us knew where we were going. I remember Charlotte, NC being that way. The map looked like child's-scribbles-turned-roads, and we went the wrong way several times. For her, it was incredibly frustrating.
I was a little more okay with it. It's my normal state.
My sense of direction is terrible.
GPS on the phone couldn't come too soon.
When the kiddos were younger, I used to take them hiking. I'm suspicious Reneè had at least a passing concern I would get lost in the forest with her two children, and we'd never return.
She'd be widowed with no children, and the entire family would be on the news.
I wasn't as concerned. The trails are marked. Most of the time.
But I also know there're two things I must do to keep my bearings while hiking.
When in the woods, it's critical to check out where you've been. Things look different. I've been on hikes when the return looked and gelt so different, I questioned if I was on the correct trail. Checking out the scenery behind you gives reassurance and familiarity for the trip home.
It will also often yield amazing views.
The trees don't move. The mountains don't change. Having seen these landmarks, I keep my bearings for the return.
Like Getting lost in a creative project can be a lot like getting lost in the woods, without a map or a GPS.
Bearings are maintained the same way.
Take regular reviews of your work. Re-read what you've written. Do a bit of editing on the project. Look at the progress made so far. Taking note of where you've been can often provide the orientation and inspiration you need to move forward. Don't use this to procrastinate. It's not about that. Get your creative bearings by looking back.
Look up (and away)
Creativity is about connecting the disparate. This requires us to periodically look outside of the workspace. Could a connection be made between two projects? Between an article I read last week and the deadline looming on Friday? Is there an analogy from family life that sheds light on my current project. Inspiration and positioning come from keen observation outside of my space.
When I'm out shooting photographs and feel uninspired, I often look up. Nobody usually does that, when walking down the street (or on the trail).
We often gain unique perspective when looking away.
It's also helpful means to find our way home.