It is up to the writer to recognize everything that happens to her as a gift, to love each thing that comes under the eye’s contemplation, inner and outer. 

Jane Hirshfield


When I first moved into this new house, everywhere I looked there was something wrong. I had so much judgement, whether it was about the metal cupboards that rattled when I opened them, the wooden railing that blocked the view to the waters of Fulford Harbour when sitting down, or the overgrown jungle of a garden outside.

In Buddha’s Brain, Neuroscientist Rick Hansen explains how our minds are hard-wired for negativity; They seem to be drawn toward the pain and struggle rather than the joy and ease. 

When I first moved to the farm in 2007, I struggled with the same judgments, but there it was the rustic fences that seemed to bow and warp in every direction and the muddy path to my studio when it rained that I was averse to. My husband would point it out to me:
“You always see what’s not right. What about looking for what is?”

It’s the same with writing.

Nothing gets written if we don’t start by putting words down. Getting the words on the page is the first step. For some of us, it is the most daunting. Because the critic in our heads will try to deter us with all kinds of excuses:
“You know you aren’t very good at this.”
“What makes you think you could write a {insert your dream project here}?”
“You always start things and then you don’t continue.”
“Who do you think you are to want to be a writer?”

Rather than bullying ourselves away from the page, what if we walked ourselves gently toward it. Taking our own hands and encouraging ourselves step-by-step, word by word. As a mother encourages a child to do something they have never tried before.

“It’s okay sweetie, just get on the bike. I am holding you. See my hands on the back of the seat. Here I am. I won’t let go until you tell me.”

What if we allowed ourselves to speak this way to our own frightened writer-to-be?

“It’s okay sweetie, I know you are afraid. Just begin. Here’s a prompt to start with. And you only have to write for 5 minutes. Just see what comes. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m right here with you.” 

(This is what I say to the writers in my memoir workshops. You can click here to learn more!)

Isn’t that how you would want to talk to yourself? Rather than with intimidation, fear, or coercion. 
We may have learned this from teachers, or parents, who didn’t have anybody telling them how important it is to create a space where trying is as important as succeeding. And failing means at least we have tried.

We all have the power to write and tell our stories our way.

We also have the power to do so with a loving attention, so instead of scaring ourselves away from the page, we guide ourselves gently toward it.


In my memoir writing workshops, we explore many different approaches for going to the page with kindness and getting our stories down.

One of them is to recognize is to change the tone of the story we are telling, by replacing the voice we are used to using to a different one.

How would your story go, if you told it from the perspective of an encouraging voice, who loves us and wants to see us grow and thrive.

A voice that might say:

“It’s okay sweetie. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m right here with you.”

Why not try it now.

Put those words at the top of your page and begin. Let yourself write for 5 or 10 minutes, or as long as the words are flowing. Try to keep the critic at bay. See yourself as that child learning to ride the bike. You may even whisper the words to yourself as you go.

After writing, you may want to try reading the words out loud. See how it feels to hear yourself speak in that gentle loving voice. 

If you like this prompt, you might enjoy Woman in Mirror. Click here to learn more…