Arkham (Staying Sane)

Using Note Cards to Keep Your Writing Motivated

You can write whatever you choose on note cards you post around your workspace
Photo by Angela Roma from Pexels

When you’re writing flows without a problem, the world looks beautiful. Every keystroke falls with absolute precision. Your brain produces every word you look for. And you exceed the word count goals you set for yourself. (No, I’m not describing a fantasy – this DOES happen on occasion) Then there’s the flipside when you can’t remember the word for “cat.” That’s when you need every little pick-me-up you can get to stop yourself from throwing your notebooks in the trash (or fire pit). What that boost looks like is different for everyone. In my case, I’ve plastered the walls of my workspace with note cards, each containing a quote or words of encouragement. Because when I sit back to contemplate the twists and turns of my life, they’re the first place my eyes go.

Writers and Negativity

Does any of this self-talk sound familiar?

  • “You’re a fraud.”
  • “That was the worst thing you’ve ever written.”
  • “No one is ever going to publish this drivel.”
  • “Did you actually graduate elementary school English?”
  • “Not even spell check can figure out what you created there.”

At some point, we all berate ourselves for our mistakes, shortcomings, and off days. We forget to acknowledge that we’re HUMAN and decide our time is better spent tearing down the fragile psyche of a writer’s ego. (And since we’re such creative individuals, we get downright mean about it)

A healthy response to writer’s block would be to walk away and give ourselves a little breathing room. Maybe even work on something else if we feel strongly compelled to write.

Instead, we choose to indulge in a bitch session. Also known as switching on our imposter syndrome and letting it run rampant for a few hours. (Days, weeks, months) That’s easier than addressing whatever triggered the feelings of inadequacy.

And, to be honest, a lot more “fun.”

Sitting back and finding flaws in yourself and your work requires little effort. It feeds the subconscious feelings lurking in the back of your mind 24/7. And it gives you an excuse to “take a break” from whatever projects you’re supposed to be working on. (Trust me on this – I’m an absolute pro at it)

Battling Negativity with Note Cards

Now, you can continue to repeat this pattern and sacrifice chunks of usable work time. OR you can devise a way to break through your funk before it gets established.

Some people exercise and let their endorphins do the trick. Others decide to nap, though, personally, I feel that’s another escape strategy. (Unless you haven’t been getting your regular rest periods, then I say nap away!)

But what I’ve found that works is easier and quicker – and doesn’t require sweating: note cards.

On the walls around my workspace, in the spots not taken up by artwork, I have note cards with quotes and sayings designed to improve my mood and encourage me to keep going. I use different colors and add little doodles into the corners, so they stand out. And each of them is at the perfect level so that when I lean back in my chair (say, in frustration), my eye falls on one or two.

Doesn’t matter which way I turn; I’m sure to see at least two note cards.

And I’m constantly adding more.

They work in conjunction with the Word Document I keep on my desktop with all the positive feedback I’ve received. (I use this when I’m really depressed)

Between the two, I can usually get myself back to typing.

Note Cards for the Win

My note cards started when I stumbled on an old pack of them from my previous job. I had picked up a set of colored cards to help me study.

Rather than toss (and waste) them, I decided to start writing down quotes that appealed to me:

  • “No day but today.” –Rent
  • “If you aim at nothing, you hit nothing.” –Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings
  • Breathe
  • It’s okay to fail
  • “You can either be powerful or pitiful. You can’t be both.” -Joyce Meyer
  • “Your you-ness is your superpower.” -Elissa Bassist

I staggered them by color to keep the eye bouncing. And I just keep adding to the walls. Whenever I hear something that lifts my spirits, I make a new note card.

By now, I have the position of each one memorizing. This is fine because that means my eye muscles know where I need to look when I get upset. I read through the words, feel better, and return to work.

Or I read another.

It’s a system that prevents me from staring at a blank screen for days on end.

And it cost me nothing – mostly because I already had the note cards and markers. (Seriously, though, note cards aren’t expensive. You can even make them)

I also eliminate needing to open a file – meaning I erase the excuse of “too much work” when I’m down in the dumps. And you KNOW writers get that way sometimes.

So give it a try. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll start to feel.

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