Not so long ago, writing was my greatest fear.
A monthly article seemed too big a commitment, let alone a daily blog.
How could there be that many things to write about?
What if I ran out of ideas?
What would happen when I had nothing to say?
In the 355 days since this blog began, I’ve run out of ideas many times. There was rarely much in my notes that seemed interesting enough to write about.
The stress or distractions of my life often threw up a great wall between the muse and me. The glowing white screen before my eyes frequently mirrored an empty expanse behind them.
The pressure to write something meaningful or entertaining prevented me from writing anything at all.
On those days, I had no choice but to settle for writing about nothing and simply write. And before you know it, something was written.
Just like today.
It always feels better once it’s done.
Could be a workout.
Could be the washing up.
Could be a walk.
Could be a talk.
Whatever it is that you’ve told yourself you’ll do today.
Get ‘er done.
Then have some fun.
We saw it a lot last month, those golden moments of failure.
Athletes who tried their best and didn’t perform as they or we expected.
We saw many Olympians who spent the last four years or more preparing for that moment and found themselves wanting on the day, for whatever reason. That’s the way it goes.
On my bad days or weeks, it’s often a struggle to get out of bed, let alone perform on the world stage. But on their bad days, they still show up.
They shoot their shot anyway, knowing it will fall short. Accepting that this time, it’s just one more leg in their journey to the top of the podium.
And then they get up tomorrow and do it again.
A common misconception about being creative is that it’s enjoyable.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Being creative is fun. Creating for a living is work.
No muse appears for a deadline. We’ve just got to sit down and start working.
We won’t get calloused hands, but we’ll probably get repetitive strain injury. Our back won’t break from hauling stones, but it will creak from hours hunched over a table.
Being creative is rarely fun for long.
But it sure as hell is rewarding when you eke out something where there was nothing before — not even the desire to create.
Logic and tactics are rarely enough to win.
Some days, even if we love doing it, it’s good for us, and it’s worth doing, that rational part of the brain just can’t be bothered to put up a fight.
Pushing through on those days is the difference between good and great.
Doing it when we want is easy. Doing it when we don’t want to is the whole point.
The days when we take it pro and push through regardless of whether we want to or not are the days we make the most progress.
Because nothing worth having ever came easy.
Not every day has to be a win.
Most days are going to feel like a tie — at best. Especially when we’re working on something big or important.
Samuel Beckett said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Failing a bit better than the day before is usually the best we can hope for. And all it takes to fail better is showing up, again.
And that’s plenty.
Special doesn’t mean good and it doesn’t mean unique.
Some moments are always special: weddings, new homes, first days, birthday parties.
These are special regardless of whether they’re in a fancy hall or under a bridge. And trying too hard to make these special always has the opposite effect.
Some things are special because they mean something to us: a song, artwork, clothing, photos. People have to find that kind of special for themselves.
Most things are considered special because they do something new or better: bike tires that don’t puncture or cars that drive themselves or people that run very fast.
This is a special that everyone can achieve, but it takes a lot of hard work and help from other people; even then, it’s not guaranteed.
The final kind of special is what we call Quality. It’s the kind of special that you feel when you pick up a hand-made instrument or use a very cleverly designed tool—made with love and care.
That’s the special we can all achieve: turning up consistently and investing our time making the best and most useful things we can.
Because, sadly, that’s not very common at all.
Some days just don’t have you in them.
We wake up feeling terrible.
We drag ourselves away from the soft, warm sheets and out to the cold, hard day.
We take a swing and miss.
And we miss again.
And we miss again.
And just when it seems like another miss might mean the end of it all…
It’s time to go back to bed.
You can’t hit a home run every time you play.
But that doesn’t make you any less of a big hitter.
Sometimes, we don’t need an encyclopedia to understand.
Often, things don’t take as long as we think they will.
And always, showing up is better than not showing up at all.
Doing the bare minimum is often a negative thing.
But some days, it’s the best we can do.
On those days when all we want to do is crawl back into bed, turning up is often enough to make progress.
Putting in the minimal effort every day isn’t how to get what we want from life.
But if ‘doing the bare minimum’ means showing up on the worst days and doing a shit job, that’s still better than doing nothing at all.