Yesterday my friend was telling me about how she was cleaning out her older son's room (who had just left on an LDS mission) and her daughter was helping her. The daughter is deathly afraid of spiders and there were some dead ones along the baseboards (they were in a basement bedroom). My friend asked her daughter to vacuum up the dead spiders while she finished packing up some things. The daughter said she couldn't do it, she was too afraid. And my friend said, "Honey, your brother (that just moved out) is doing something that scares him. In this family, we do hard things."
She knew she sounded impatient and she left the room for a moment. When she came back she peeked in the room and her daughter had the longest hose available on the vacuum and she was vacuuming up the spiders saying over and over to herself, "I can do hard things."
Later on that week, the same daughter was out in the garden weeding and the spiders were crawling around, but the daughter sucked it up and kept weeding---until one crawled on her hand. Then she was done. But she came to her mom afterward and said, "See Mom, I'm getting better at this."
That story totally struck me, not only on a personal level (because we all struggle with hard things that we're trying to overcome) but also on a professional level. Being a writer can be scary. Getting rejections and bad reviews is hard. Putting yourself out there is hard. Sometimes even getting the words down on paper is hard.
But if we work at it, and say over and over to ourselves, "I can do hard things," then I believe we can do it. The more we work at it the less scary it becomes and the more victorious we feel as we reach milestones in our lives and in our work.
So, today, when you are sitting in your chair staring at a blank screen, or reading a rejection, or submitting to an agent, I hope you'll remember a girl with a vacuum hose who faced her fear with a rallying cry of, "I can do hard things."
Because you can, too.