Lost in the Weeds: A Writer's Journey
I lost my way. Six hours in, all the snacks were gone, no sign of a trail marker, and the last glorious vista was two hours ago. Tired and frustrated I sat on a rock in the sun gulping down tepid water from my canteen.
“Why did I want to climb this mountain?” I whispered to the curious chipmunk examining my pack.
My watch buzzed with a notification. “Congratulations! You reached your step goal.”
Hmph. Not helpful. I set out for a prized photo of a moose, not 50,000 sweaty steps up the mountain.
With my Nikon in my pack, I began the day hoping to catch the wildlife in the valley. The colorful sunrise had been glorious, but not one moose or elk made their presence known. I snapped off several shots of the sun lighting up the fog in the valley. Later, I stumbled across several Big Horned Sheep. The salt lick kept their interest as I zoomed in on three little ones. Those shots were pure gold.
The chipmunk succeeded in squirming his way into the front pocket of my pack, the little pirate. The trail map poked out under his feet. As I slipped it out, the chipmunk scurried off to a safer distance. Before checking the trail I had marked, I fanned my face and closed my eyes. The sweetness of the air and the warmth of the sun settled over me.
Where was I?
Over breakfast and tea at the crack of the day, I marked a winding trail to the pass. My intention? To savor the beauty and to capture grand vistas and wildlife along the way.
Okay. I had over 300 shots on my Nikon proving the glory of the day. I was a little lost but not completely off track. Now what?
Below me, a twig snapped in the distance and the laughter of a child echoed off the river valley. A trail was nearby, and my journey was not complete. Time to reroute and finish the day before all my water was gone.
Before jumping off my rock, I focused the Nikon on the river below. The laughing child now stood silent and pointing. I raised the lens a fraction. A giant moose meandered down the far bank, pausing briefly to dip his head for a drink. Click.
Many days, writing feels like this hike. I begin with a clear view of my priority for the day, but by lunch, I’ve deleted more words than I’ve written, cleaned out a closet, and phoned a friend. I am lost.
However, much like the hiker, I’ve made more progress than I realized. Two drafts sit in my folder, my clothes are clean, and my friend reminded me why my message matters. Lost, but not off track.
When you find yourself lost in your writing life, take a moment to sit and take in the scenery. Like the woman in the story, noting progress helps us reorient and take note of significant landmarks.
She reached her step goal, a bonus accomplishment. You may have started out hoping to write the draft of your next chapter. Along the way, you outlined a different chapter. That’s a win!
She got up early for the wildlife but got a glorious sunrise instead. Your efforts are not in vain. While the original goal may not be obtained, what did you learn along the way? What surprised you?
Unexpectedly, while hiking, she photographed Big Horned Sheep. When we show up to do the work, even when we are not inspired, inspiration shows up too.
While tired and frustrated, the hiker’s focus on failure caused her to miss the beauty in her day. Hit a wall? Take a break. Survey the scenery and take care of your basic needs. Our perspective skews to the negative when we are tired and frustrated. After resting, reevaluate your situation.
Listen for the community of travelers around you, and look for the unexpected. The hiker’s trail was much closer than she realized, and she was not as alone as she felt. Neither are you. You may feel lost, but you are showing up for the work. Keep going, gather community, and look for the unexpected ways your words are making a difference.
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