Its noon on a Sunday afternoon. I have a hot cup of coffee next to me, a buzzing coffee shop backdrop behind me, and an afternoon without a single child tugging on me. I have been pushed out the door with kind reassurance by my coparent for an afternoon of writing, a practice we have been encouraging for me when the schedule allows. I pull out my computer and the blank screen haunts me. But that’s how this writing gig goes, isn’t it? Good days. Bad days. Creative moments. Brain dead moments. And all of the in between. What matters is the daily practice, the stretching of the mind muscles.
I could close the screen. Skip this day. This is not homework. It’s just writing.
But I know I don’t want to do that. I know I want to remember that even when it was hard, I still showed up.
So instead of staring at that blinking cursor and empty white space, I open up a browser and read an old blog post. Nothing in particular, just the first one I see. I finish reading. I take a deep breath and smile. Ok, now I’m ready to write.
I am constantly soaking up advice from practiced writers about what gets them into a good writing space. I received an interesting piece of advice at a writing conference last year. The writer said when she is feeling stalled or lost or unsuccessful, she opens up a piece of writing she has done before. I tried this. And I love it.
Even if it doesn’t feel like my best example of my writing, it still is a reminder that I can do it. I am a writer. The words will come. But they only come if I put my fingers to the keys.
I think this habit of reading my own work is not just limited to writers, or any artist for that matter. I believe the habit of reminding ourselves of what we are capable of, the good that so often gets over shadowed by the bad, this is important for all creative people. And you know when I say “creative people” I am talking about you too.
Needing to get out there and exercise? Go back and find that picture of you finishing your first half marathon. You are never as bad ass as at the finish lane of a race.
Kids driving you bananas and causing you to question if someone made a mistake in allowing you to parent them? Scroll through that Instagram account. See those happy faces? Those are good memories that you made with them. Today’s screaming fits and constant messes will not be remembered in your scroll feed. And if they are, it will just bring a laugh. It’s always easier to laugh when it’s behind you.
But what about the other successes we don’t document. What about the wins at work? What about that amazing dinner you made? What about that feeling you get when you pull together an outfit outside of your normal mom uniform and you feel really good about yourself. Only you have no place to go but bus pick up.
While it is easy for me to scroll through my blog and see the progress of my writing, I think there might be other ways to keep track of the little wins in your life to look back on when you need some inspiration. There are not always easy ways to document that big win at work without seeming braggadocios. Sometime we feel really awesome about a super tough workout but the gym bathroom selfie is just not your thing. And everyone knows that beautiful meal you just created only looks good photographed in mid afternoon lighting by a window with white boards filtering the light, and its 6:30 PM in the middle of winter darkness and everyone is ready to eat.
For all of these times, what if you made an inspiration album on your photos just for you. Or a note folder on your phone with a quick brag moment you don’t want to forget. Or if you are one of those super organized follow through kind of people, you could keep a little journal next to your bed for personal bragging rights at the end of the day.
No matter what you create in your life, if you can’t be proud of yourself, who will? From my experience, small moments of pride are just the catalyst you need to do more of what you love. If you find you are struggling to begin, perhaps step one is to look back to see how far you have already come.