Ever had this happen?
Today started out as one of those days. For no particular reason at all, I woke up feeling kinda bleh.
Well, maybe it wasn’t for NO reason. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that yesterday I reread my first novel and realized how awful it is (though it did make me see how much I’ve grown). I also yesterday started a short story and, though I was really excited about it, got to a place where I thought, “Ehh, I’m done with this.” Hopefully I’ll pick it back up later, but it started going in a different direction than I imagined, and I’m starting to think maybe it was more the dream I had about it that I loved and not so much the story itself.
Yesterday, I also got a letter from my mentor and, while he is always full of praise, he also had some suggestions for my current manuscript that were hard to hear. Suggestions like, maybe you should cut out these 45 pages. 45 pages. Of only 138.
Here’s the thing. What he said, I already knew. Even as I wrote it, I was thinking, “I’m not sure this is going how I wanted it to go.” I had this cool idea for the book and when I told people, they got excited. As a reader and writer, I was excited about the idea, but when I wrote it, I wasn’t excited. His suggestion was good. More than good. It was perfect. It’s probably exactly what the novel needs to actually become decent. But still. 45 pages. That’s like 1/3 of the book.
So, as it does, discouragement set in and my mind went to all those places it loves to go… And I started to wonder… Have I ever written a sentence that wasn’t complete and utter crap?
I know you know this feeling. Everyone has it about something in their lives. The struggle as a writer is hard. There’s a ton of competition and it’s hard to be good and you have to do all this promotion like start a blog and then you have to do social media and network with people and read books and review books and read what other people write and join groups and clubs and go to conferences and be unique like everyone else, and, oh yeah, somewhere in the middle of all that, YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO WRITE!
Luckily, for me, these days don’t come often and they don’t last long. This stems in part from a love that is so deep and constant and in part from an unshakable knowing that I am doing what I was created to do. I love writing. I will never stop. Even. If. It never gets me anywhere. (But I know it will. Eventually.)
When I was a teen, and for most of my early adult life, I dealt with severe depression. And dealt with it for about 15 years. It was the kind of depression that makes you give up on everything, especially yourself. Makes you want to do or be anything other than what you are. After years of therapy, drugs (prescribed and not), and being miserable, I did find my solution and was set free once and for all by the power of God. I thank Him for days like this because it reminds me that these are only days. And usually not even complete days and nothing like they were. And they’re rare.
But during those awful teens days, my mother did everything she could to help me. I still tear up over the conversation we had in the car when I was maybe 15 when I told her, “I don’t want to feel like this anymore.”
She did something cool. She wrote me a list of all the things I’m good at and that she loved about me. I still have it. I still read it.
Enter, the Pick Me Up File
Fast forward to today. We all love encouragement. I love to receive it and I love to give it. Words are important to me. (Duh.) So words of encouragement are very meaningful. Problem is, you forget them, and the words that were not-so-encouraging tend to stick. Well. I found a solution.
I took my mother’s idea and modernized it slightly. I made a Pick Me Up File.
I keep it in Evernote so that I can access it from my computer, my phone, and any place that has an internet connection. I have filled it with things people have said about me. In this case, specifically my writing, but you can make these for all areas of your life. You should.
Here are just a few snippets from mine:
“I loved it, and I can’t wait to read the next part!”
“It’s a really great story, Denise. :D”
“Wow, I can feel your energy jumping off the page!”
“This made me want to keep reading. You are graced to do this work and you will succeed! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing and for trusting me with that which is so close to your heart.”
“You’re extremely good at organically working in expositionary details.”
That’s just 5 of more than 30 snippets from lots of different people. The last one is from a published author, who is also one of my mentors, and actually gives me chills. Down my spine. (Yes, it’s a cliche. No, I don’t care. It’s true :)
Whenever I start to feel less than, or am tempted to wallow, or need to rid myself of that nagging nasty comment floating around my mind from, oh, I don’t know, like A YEAR AGO, I open this file.
It contains tidbits of emails, comments from critiques, and other things that people said about me and my writing. It has words from multiple people (because as much as I love my mom, it’s easy to blow off praise from family because they have to love you). I add to it every time I get new positive feedback. And when I read it, magic happens. I feel like I can take on the world. Because hey. All these people love me and look at what they said. :D (Even editing and reading over this post this morning had me literally dancing in my room signing along to my Poptastic playlist.)
Go make a Pick Me Up File. Go fill it. Read it. Read it often and remember that YOU CAN and YOU ARE and YOU WILL.
And while you’re at it, add to some else’s Pick Me Up File. They just might need it :)