Bela Lampert

Optioned Screenwriter
Yoga Instructor

How To Write Your Way Out Of The Dark Woods

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How To Write Your Way Out Of The Dark Woods

Imagine you’re taking a walk in the woods and you try out a new path. One you haven’t walked before. At the beginning you like it, but the further you go, the darker it gets, and all of a sudden, all you can see around yourself are trees. A lot of trees.

And the path that you came on is gone. You have no idea where to go and you cannot see anything because of all the trees around you.

That is the situation a lot of writers put themselves into. They write themselves into a corner by adding trees and trees and trees and then they’re lost.

And now what?

Well, you try to do the same thing as you would in reality. In order to see something you need to get rid of trees. Luckily, the trees on your page can be cut down easily with a single keystroke.

Then, when you got rid of the trees, try to re-create the steps that got you there. At which point did you get lost? Go back step by step until you are back in an area where you know your way around.

On the page, that means getting rid of the stuff (at least temporarily) that got you off track. That confused you. You need to go backwards until you’re only left with things of which you know their exact purpose:

Why did you put that scene there? Why does this character react like this in that moment? Why did you point to something in the future, and when does it happen?…

If you are too overwhelmed by what you have and you don’t know where to start, again, try to find your basis.

Take a deep breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Until your breath is calm and steady.

Then, turn to your page, and start weeding out bit by bit. Start somewhere. It doesn’t matter. Take one bit out, then the next bit, then the next bit, until you are clear of the woods.

Then, and only then, can you start putting trees back in. You will be much clearer now on which trees you really need and why.

Finding your way back to basis is the key. How else would you know where to go?

Practice finding your way back: