“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe
When I saw these words chalked on a board outside The Local, a neighborhood coffee cafe, they instantly lifted my spirits. What a simple strategy! It makes whatever endeavor lies ahead feel doable, doesn’t it? Let’s explore these words of wisdom:
Start where you are: Let’s orient ourselves. As I write this, a new day is beginning: It’s a fresh page — anything is possible. So, for me, starting where I am gives me the opportunity to begin my day with gratitude, with heartfelt thanks that I am where I am, doing what I love. Let’s start where we are: with gratitude, with openness, with a sense of possibility. When we start where we are, we begin anew: We let go of any obstacles we encountered yesterday and we don’t spend time worrying about what tomorrow holds. We are poised in the present moment – alert and open — ready for whatever it offers us.
Use what you have: Let’s peek in our writer’s kitbag and see what tools we can use today. First, there are the intangible ones – the emotional resources we bring to our work. Let’s use our intention: We can work in a committed, purposeful way. Let’s use our focus: We can make it a goal to give ourselves some uninterrupted time to think, to plan, to write. Let’s use our attitude to shape our day: We can bring a joyful, expectant mindset to our work. We can be ready to explore, to figure out, to be surprised. Let’s use our ingenuity: When we hit a roadblock, let’s challenge ourselves right in the moment to come up with three or four creative ways to leap over it. What gift to ourselves!
Now, let’s dip into our kitbag for the hands-on tools of our trade — our craftsmanship. How lucky we are! We have our experience; our ability to gather information and learn,; our ability to use revision – to re-envision our work; the strengths we’ve developed: penning believable dialogue, conveying voice and mood, building worlds, and setting a story’s pace. Wow, our kitbag is brimming with tools we can use today!
Do what you can: This sounds doable, doesn’t it? Today, we can do what we’re able to, what’s possible for us. We can make progress, even if it’s just a few baby steps. We can build some forward momentum. And as we do what we can, we empower ourselves to do even more than we think we can: We may even find a second wind and push past the point where we thought our gas tank was empty. If we do what we can and then do a little bit more than we think we can each time we sit down, we strengthen our commitment muscle and we often amaze ourselves.
So, equipped with a positive attitude, tons of tools, and a willingness to go the extra mile, let’s all write on!