5 Lessons for Creative Wilderness: When Lost in the Woods

We all get a bit lost sometimes.

Sometimes we can get lost geographically, like that time when I was fourteen and my five friends and I got lost in the bush south of Perth while trekking on the Bibbulman Track. We were in the middle of who knows where; we’d lost all trace of the skinny dirt track that we were traveling on. Getting out of our pickle required a bit of knowledge that my Dad had given me years earlier — knowledge he had learned from his time serving in the Australian Army. By keeping a close eye on our compass, we walked to the left of one tree and then to the right of the next, repeating one after the other, which kept us in a relatively straight line until we found the major gravel road we were seeking.

At other times, we can get lost creatively, which has been something I’ve experienced lately. Getting lost is scary. You can panic and fear that you won’t find your way back which can lead to a bit of strife, especially when you’re on a deadline. In times of desperation you question yourself and your work and that can be hazardous. There’s nothing worse than clinging to a bad idea in fear you won’t come up with a better one.

The biggest thing I’ve learned about creative wilderness is not to panic. It’s easier said than done, but very true. 

Which brings me to this fabulous 1946 flyer, from the U.S. Forest Service. “What To Do When Lost In The Woods” was a manual made for hikers and campers and it is ever-so-fitting for creatives types like you and me who get lost from time to time.