Earlier this month, I had the great privilege of being on the faculty at the Highlights Foundation Summer Camp, where I got to spend a week talking craft, sharing stories, and being surrounded by a wonderful group of writerly people. Aside from the good food and good company, it was also a pleasure learning from my fellow faculty members, like Tiffany Jackson (author of Let Me Hear a Rhyme), who gave me new ways to think about plot, or Kathy Erskine (author of The Incredible Magic of Being), who in her keynote suggested posting a one-line synopsis at the top of your monitor to remind yourself of what the core of your story is.
Of course, this got me thinking about the ways I use my own monitor space--not just the screen itself (which I often use to do side-by-side document views, one with an old draft and one with a new one, so I can re-type as I revise) but also the edge of the monitor as well. In the past, I’ve put sticky notes around the edge of my monitor to remind me of revision ideas I knew I’d lose track of if I put them in my notebook, which has been practical and helpful. But lately, I’ve also begun to use this space for affirmations.
Affirmations, the internet tells me, are statements of truth to which we aspire. I think of mine as reminders, guideposts, encouragements, ways of centering myself. They remind me of my direction, the kind of writer I want to be, and what is possible. Take this one, my affirmation for 2018:
I’ve mentioned before that I’m something of a workaholic (and not always in a good way, I’ve come to realize), so this is a reminder I need. I’m not lazy if I need time to recharge. I’m not selfish if I need a moment to breathe. I’m not a failure if I need a break. Hard work and self-care are not mutually exclusive. I still struggle with this, of course. I criticize myself for not producing faster. I beat myself up for getting sick and losing days of work. But because of this affirmation, I have the words to defuse my workaholic tendencies and my feelings of guilt. Sometimes, taking time off can be an act of daring. Sometimes, self-care can be heroic.
Now, I’m starting on a brand new project, and it’s that this tender, fledgling stage, this precious moment where it can be nurtured into flourishing or snuffed out with a single careless word, and I want to be mindful of that. To that end, I’ve created new affirmations for myself:
These ones aren’t full sentences, but I don’t think they need to be. Every time I look at them, they remind me of how I want to enter this story. They remind me that, no matter what else is going on, this is what my creativity needs. This is what will get the writing done. This is how the art gets made. With courage, peace, and kindness.
To end this post, I’d like to share what each of these affirmations means to me, and if anything resonates with you, please feel free to adopt or adapt it for yourself. <3
May I write this book from a place of courage. May those voices of fear and doubt dissipate like mist burning away in sunlight. May I be brave in my choices and fearless in my craft.
May I write this book from a place of peace. May I be centered. May I be focused. May I be grounded, with my feet under me and my sights on the horizon. May I allow my distractions to fall away so that I can perceive this story with the clarity it deserves.
May I write this book from a place of kindness. May I be gentle with myself. May I be patient with my process and all of my shortcomings. May I treat myself and my creativity with empathy, understanding, and respect. May this part of my journey be suffused with love and joy, because I will never travel this part of my journey again.