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7 Reasons to Get Lost on the Writing Adventure


No. 153 | By Christine Carron

A few days ago, I went to get a sandwich. The sandwich place is in the next town over. The normal way to get there takes me through a stretch of gnarly local traffic.

On a whim, I decided to get lost on purpose. (This was actually possible as I left my cell phone, meaning my GPS, at home.) Boldly, I made a right turn where I’d never turned right before. My goal: See if I could avoid the stretch of stop-and-go slog.

As I made that first turn, a surge of adventure energy shot through me. I became: Christine, ace navigator of unknown suburbia backroads!

Was it the fastest way to get to the sandwich shop? I don’t know. I will never know how fast or not fast I would have gotten through the gnarly bit of traffic. In addition, while my solid sense of direction served me well, it was possible I could have made some wrong turns and gotten really lost instead of pleasantly lost, which I have definitely done before.

But, wow, that was the most engaged I’ve been on a local trip for awhile. My awareness and focus spiked. The delight that resulted from my mini navigational adventure doubled the already high yum factor of my fancy fried Brussels sprouts sandwich.

My creativity got juiced, too. I sketched out this blog post while I was eating, starting with the question: When was the last time you got lost on purpose on the writing adventure?

If you’re thinking, “I don’t want to be lost, Christine. I just want to get my book done and get it published already,” that’s cool. I get it. But I’m going to make my case for a little purposeful getting lost action anyway.

The Power of Getting Lost on Purpose 

Imagine your novel (or nonfiction book, or whatever writing project you’re working on) is your destination. If you are like most writers, “being productive” means getting your book done as fast as possible.

The tricky bit is that sometimes what appears to be the most direct route won’t be the fastest or the most productive—and, for the record, “fastest” and “most productive” are not always synonymous no matter how much we want to think they are. 

Nor can we, nor any GPS for that matter, fully predict the future, which will include the writerly adventure equivalents of detours, construction slow-downs, traffic jams, accidents, pit stops, etc. Berating ourselves for landing in such experiences does nothing for our mood, motivation, productivity, or our ability to navigate them with greater ease and speed.  

What will help? Integrating a practice of regularly getting lost on purpose, which is just my metaphorical way of saying: Experiment. Get outside your comfort zone. Try a new technique, a new tool, a new critique group, a new whatever. 

Not for the Faint of Heart

Getting lost on purpose is not necessarily easy. We all have inner critics and inner perfectionists watching our every move. Those parts of ourselves are highly skeptical of, and uncomfortable with, any getting lost action, even of the purposeful variety. But the thing is—do you really want those parts of you running your writing adventure? 

(I didn’t think so.)

The good news is that, when we are bold enough to do it, getting lost on purpose is empowering. It strengthens qualities that add a definite sheen and sparkle to the way we experience our writing adventures. Qualities that also happen to be highly useful to our creativity on a practical level. Here are just seven of those qualities. 

7 Reasons Why Getting Lost is a Good Thing

Hello, Curiosity

Getting lost means you have to be actively curious. What will happen if I do this? What is happening now that I am doing this? Is it as I expected? Or different? Did it help me move my writing forward a little? A lot? Not at all? In a different way than I thought it would? 

You become fascinated with your creative process, which means your creative process matters. (It does!)

Hello, Focus

In order to answer all those questions generated by our amped up Curiosity, we have to focus. Pay attention. Ditch autopilot and take the wheel. 

Hello, Pluck

Getting lost on purpose requires pluck, i.e., spirited courage. Run-of-the-mill courage won’t do. And most definitely we don’t want fortitude—courage when suffering. (Yikes!)

It’s pluck that gives us the good, old-fashioned derring-do to take the risks that allow us to discover more ways to be productive on the writing adventure. 

Hello, Trust

The more you get lost on purpose, the more you build inner trust. Getting lost on purpose invites you to tune into your inner guidance at a deeper level. And every time you successfully navigate through one of your structured getting lost actions, you increase your faith in that internal guidance, i.e., in your internal GPS. Et voila! More inner trust.

Hello, Confidence

When you get lost on purpose you practice handling uncertainty, doubt, and navigating unknowns in a boundaried way. Over time, that practice increases your confidence that you’ve got this no matter what, because you’ve been working through self-created “no matter what” situations.

Hello, Spaciousness

Some of us writers carry within us a fairly rigid, and constricted view of what acceptable progress looks like. What successful progress looks like. It has a certain timeline, a certain cadence, and a certain quality that doesn’t allow for much experimentation or freedom.

This narrow view of our success doesn’t create spaciousness.

Spaciousness is good. It makes room for options. For perspective. For growth. Claiming spaciousness through actions like getting lost on purpose is a move of expansion. Of boldness. Of time and process abundance. 

You are saying to yourself, to your creativity, and to the world: I am willing to do something that will not necessarily guarantee my writing progress in the short-term but empowers me to learn more about myself, my creative process, and to explore different tools, and tactics, and strategies that could help me be more productive in the long term. And, you know what? I and this project are worth whatever time and space it takes. 

Hello, Delight

Delight means extreme satisfaction. The fastest path to extreme satisfaction is creating a writing adventure that is tailor made for you. Getting lost on purpose is a great way to build a robust wardrobe of tools, skills, strategies, and perspectives. A wardrobe that will ensure your delight, not just in the outcomes you create but in every step of the journey along the way.

Which brings us back to . . .

When was the last time you got lost on purpose on the writing adventure?

Have I made my case? If so . . . you've got this!

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