Breadcrumbs

From time to time, I get asked about writing and songwriting. People want to know how I keep coming up with ideas for blogs, songs and books in a series. Sometimes I wonder where all the ideas come from and if I will ever run out.

Every writer is different. They may source their inspiration from any range of places, including life experience, the experiences of others, nature, bad times, good times, spiritual awakenings and even dreams. A little quirky thing like a gecko on a window can inspire a whole story.

I tend to write by faith. And by routine. Every Friday, I sit down to write a blog. Sometimes I already have ideas burning. Sometimes I have no clue what I will write about. Only one thing is certain: I will write today. They say inspiration takes practice. Perhaps they are right.

They say inspiration takes practice. Perhaps they are right.

I also write songs. I start with a germ of an idea, without fully comprehending how the end product will sound. It might be a chord progression, a concept or a lyric, but the genesis is always small. If I work on it, the song will grow. All it needs is a little attention from me. Songs are like plants: a little nurturing goes a long way.

Writing a book is another exercise in faith. I start with a big plan for all the things I want to say and then I drill down into the details. I never know exactly how I am going to say it or whether it will all come together in the end. I never know how many chapters I will wind up with or if I will ever get it finished.

The process of writing can take many twists and turns. The words that show up on paper or on computer screen often do not match what I imagined in my head. Sometimes it is better; sometimes it is worse. Sometimes I lose faith in myself and fret that it cannot be done.

This is where the breadcrumbs come in. Think fairytale, Hansel-and-Gretel-style breadcrumbs. Hansel and Gretel made their way through the forest following the trail of breadcrumbs, without which they would have been utterly lost. They could not see their destination from where they were. All they could see was the next breadcrumb in the trail.

All they could see was the next breadcrumb in the trail.

Writing is a lot like that for me. I start with an idea and trust that God and I will work something out together. I seldom know how it will finish when I begin. All I can see from here is the next breadcrumb, the next thought, the next lyric, the next blank word document. And I start with that.

It might sound a little disorganised or spontaneous. Many people prefer to have a plan. Society tells us to have life all mapped out, to know exactly where we are going. A comprehensive plan gives us the illusion of being in control. Walking – and writing – by faith is a little countercultural.

Writing by faith is a little countercultural.

It might sound a little anxiety-provoking. But it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like walking through a dark tunnel, feeling along the wall, calmly taking one step at a time. I know I’ll find the way. Every time I sit down with the computer and start typing; every time I perch at the keyboard and start playing; I trust God is going to lead me somewhere good.

His divine breadcrumbs will get me home.

Has God given you breadcrumbs to follow in life? What is your next breadcrumb in the trail? Let’s start a countercultural conversation.

Join the conversation