We often feel like giving up. When you write a book or a blog, you wonder if anyone is reading your work. If you’re in a job, you wonder if your hard work will ever be recognised. What can you do when despair creeps in? Just keep showing up.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling novel Eat, Pray, Love, says this: As a writer, you cannot accept full responsibility for the success or failure of your work. The ancient Greeks believed in a muse that sometimes chose to visit a writer. When that happened, the work was an inspired success. If not, the worker just had to keep on working. Your muse may not show up, but YOU must.
When to keep showing up
Here are some possible situations when you don’t feel like showing up. Bear in mind that there’s nothing wrong with this, so guilt is not necessary if any or all apply to you. They certainly all apply to me:
When our livelihood is at stake, it’s easy to show up even when we don’t feel like it. When it comes to voluntary work, it’s all too easy not to. So just keep showing up to your projects or chosen charities. Remember why you do what you do.
It’s easy to plead out of spending time with the people we love. “I have to work” is usually accepted as a valid excuse, so that’s the one we use most often, even when we don’t really have to work.
There are so many excuses for this one – weather, fatigue, injury, lack of time, and of course, work.
Just keep showing up
So when your muse drops in to inspire you, go with the flow. But when she’s nowhere to be found, just keep showing up.
The novel Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia is a balm for the soul and also highly entertaining.
62 replies on “Just Keep Showing Up (When You Don’t Want To)”
Just wanted to leave you a note that on this day, at this time, another human being stopped by on his way to the rest of his life. Thanks for sharing. I found you by googling “keep showing up.” You can see/hear/read more about me on facebook; look for prdad007. Be Blessed!
Thanks so much for leaving this note to let me know you passed by this way! And I appreciate knowing how you found my blog too. It’s great to make connections between people this way. All the best to you on your journey!
Thanks for sharing the link. Sometimes showing up is pausing to listen to someone else, read other words, sift through the mass of info to find a tiny gem that resonates and inspires.
Hello Kip, welcome! Thanks for the insightful comment. You’re so right, sometimes just being there to read, think, and contribute in ways besides writing is also showing up. I like this thought. Thank you!
Thought I’d come by to check in on you!
I agree with Davina in that you might be too hard on yourself! I also agree with Evelyn that in all things, balance.
I also think that it takes a lot of work to re-design a website (which is lovely btw) so perhaps you need a little break?
You are so talented, not only in mind but in “heart”…how you care and give of yourself is something I marvel at!
Oh, and agree again with Davina…a writer must simply write! get those journals going…I carry one with me at all times. The cheaper and less fancy the journal the better…this way, your subconscious won’t be too worried about making it nice and perfect. I found that the more expensive and fancy the journal, the more I was blocked because it didn’t leave me enough room to be carefree!
Hope this helps and makes sense.
Let me know, if you need/want guest writers to give yourself a rest…I’m happy to do it and know of many others who would do it for you in a heartbeat!
Oyy, sorry for my ramblings…I just care and I leave you with a smile! :~)
Everybody, what do you all think???
Gosh, Henie. I am so touched by this comment. Thank you for coming back to check on me, and for the lovely long caring comment. This alone would cure almost any ills!
I am very well now. Yes I think working on the site design was time-consuming and sapped me. I went back to reading fiction (John Grisham!) and reading until I felt sleepy then straight to bed. That worked wonders!
It’s really very sweet of you to say all this Henie. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I certainly know I can count on you for a listening ear and some help if I need to. Thank you!
Daphne, I too loved this talk on TED. Your message hear is really a perfect example of the whole point that was made that you need to do what you do despite how you feel about it. It’s almost like you intended to write it that way to make your point!
Mike, glad you liked the video. I’m sure her message influenced my tone for the post greatly. It’s also true that I haven’t been inspired to write for quite some time but decided I should hunker down and punch out a few words after such a long break. Thanks for considering me smart enough to use the post to make the point – I’m glad it had that effect, though I’m not sure if I started writing with that intention!
Sorry to hear that you’re feeling in a bit of a funk – must be a change in season in something as it seems to be going around…
I always love reading your posts and am glad to see that you have such a wonderful helpful community around you. You realise in times like these how invaluable these people are.
Kim, thanks for the encouraging comment. Yes I’m blessed with a wonderful community here. This is the number one benefit and joy that I’ve gained through blogging, and I’m sure you will too. You’ve just reminded me to ‘feel the love’ and be happy!
[…] not all. Just yesterday, I read a great post called Keep Showing Up. I watched the videos posted there (one of TED, one from Letterman) and enjoyed my stay at Joyful […]
I have come to know that having balance is key. Blogging can be addictive but if we neglect the other aspects of our lives, life can become unhealthy.
I choose to only publish articles only twice a week. Even if means that traffic is slower to build, so be it. Even though my other time is not spent on the web, it is time well spent so that I can be more effective & efficient when I start to write.
Thanks for your honesty. To me, not feeling like wanting to blog is a sign that you need to take a break. I’m glad to know that you are going to do just that – whether through exercise or nurturing yourself. Take care!
Evelyn, you’re right about balance. I think I was spending too much time online, neglecting activities like reading, journalling, exercise. Am already feeling better today after getting off the internet early last night!
I think twice a week works well for me too. Traffic may be slower but life is better! Thanks for this comment.
You are so welcome Daphne!
It does my heart and soul good to know that I have helped.
Keep me posted on how this works for you. Sometimes we just need to give
ourselves time to “play in the sandbox” to keep the creative juices flowing.
Hi Daphne. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I have a feeling you might be a wee bit of a perfectionist. Am I right? You might be pushing yourself too hard or judging your writing too much… sensoring the real you. It’s hard to write as “somebody else”.
Why don’t you try the exercise I’ve committed to doing — write every morning JUST for 10 minutes. Some mornings I lay in bed and stare at my journal, but I force myself to write even for 10 minutes, even if it is mindless stuff. I’ve found that I’ve been feeling more inspired than usual, just since I’ve started this exercise.
And you could, as many others have suggested, ALLOW yourself to take a break. Do something else that is creative for you.
I LOVE the blue colour that you have chosen for the new layout.
Davina, I almost feel guilty at not paying you for this excellent life coaching advice I’m getting! But I won’t (feel guilty) because I’m taking your advice not to be hard on myself! 😉
Seriously, that’s great advice and I wasn’t expecting something to practical and doable. You’re right that I used to be a perfectionist, much less now but remnants linger. And I also love journalling and have done less of that since I started writing so much online. Perhaps that explains the lack of inspiration.
I’m going to do exactly what you suggested – don’t blog until I’ve journalled for myself. Thanks very very much for this!
“Keep showing up”, that’s a good advice to remember. Sometimes we really don’t feel like it due to a variety of reasons. We may feel that we’re not inspired enough, that we’re doing something, but its not valuable enough to share or write about. But why not? We don’t talk to our friends only on their best days, we talk to them all the time, even when they’re sad or bored. We’d like to take part in the life they’re living because they matter to us, not because we want to be inspired or entertained. Glad you keep on showing up, Daphne!
Jocelyn, I love your wisdom! You made me smile in agreement about the fact that we don’t talk to our friends only on their best days, or only when we feel we’re at our best. This is very true, very wise, and I am very glad you left this comment here, Jocelyn. I will remember this.
Daphne, writing a blog demonstrates the difference between love and being in love. The first six months is the being in love stage. Words and emotions flow and everything is glowing.
After about six months being in love moves into the everydayness of life. So does our blog writing. At least it did for me. Now it is time to get serious about life and love.
Love doesn’t come as easy as being in love when your eyes and ears are blind to imperfections. Now the real work starts. As you stated, this is the showing up phase.
I don’t know at what stage new bloggers begin to stop showing up but a lot of blogs, like a lot of new businesses, fail in the first year.
Enthusiasm begins to lessen. We still love our baby (blog) but with less intensity. Some days it is just plain work to get the words to come. I really appreciate the days that the words seem to flow again. Those are the articles that I know are exactly right. Guess what, those are my favorites but not always the favorites of my readers. Sometimes the readers like articles that I wasn’t even sure I should be writing. We aren’t always the best judge of the success of our writing. We don’t see the whole picture.
Patricia, that was an excellent analogy and really got me thinking about the ‘life cycle’ of blogging. It’s reassuring to know that this is a phase that everyone goes through, just like romantic relationships and many other aspects of life.
You also made a good point that what we feel are our best posts aren’t always best-liked, and the little ones we’re almost embarrassed about turn out to be popular. It’s a great way to stay humble and not trust our judgment too much, but leave things to life!
Thanks for this wonderful comment, Patricia. I appreciate it.
When I’m in a slump I
Do something creative that doesn’t involve writing.
Spend time in nature with a sketchbook.
Reduce amount of blogging.
Write shorter posts.
Keep on keepin on!
Tess, that was good advice indeed. I did something last night I haven’t done in a long time – light the candles, put on the lavender scent, and just sat there enjoying the night. Then I slept at 10pm which is awfully early for me. And this morning I feel on top of the world again!
I love your phrase “keep on keepin on”… catchy and memorable!
You are so funny 🙂 I love the way you made your point about showing up. You Crack me up.
After the good laugh I have to say: You are right on about showing up. We have to show up to our own life. Be presence every single day.
Imperfect Action is better than No Action
Giovanna, I’m glad you found it funny, though I didn’t feel very funny when I wrote it! It’s your sweet nature to always see the good in others. And I am so grateful for that! Yes, I am showing up in my life today, after a good night’s sleep last night! Thank you Giovanna!
Elizabeth Gilbert does offer a glimpse into new levels of wisdom. Thanks for your reflections here. I was recently oriented to Gilbert’s on-line presentation by a friend. Then, I posted this:
Liara, thanks for the link. I don’t know how I missed that in my reader. Just had a read and those are good points!
Thanks Daphne … I’m going through something similar and I decided to keep showing up .. even though I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time. I like how you apply it to other parts of life, and I recognise this myself. There are times when I just don’t show up and it rarely gives me what I need.
Ian, thanks for sharing that you’re going through this too. It helps to know we’re not alone. I decided to get offline last night, relax, read and go to bed early. Woke up this morning feeling on top of the world! Sometimes the cure is that simple. Hope you find something that works for you too, Ian.
My feed reader was on the fritz- can not believe I missed this post. That is something else with Phoenix there- apparently the drug use did not stop with his brother- which is very sad- he saw his brother die. I agree with Lance- life is like the ocean- you need to simply ride the waves. Ebb and Flow is a way of life. It is good to feel down sometimes because it creates a much more joyful high (not drug of course) 🙂
Jay, thanks for confirming my suspicion that Phoenix was on drugs. Some people found it so unbelievable he would go on air like that, they thought it could be a hoax! I wasn’t sure myself. And I didn’t know he saw his brother die. That must have been traumatic.
Lance made a great point, and you added to it, about the lows helping us to recognise the highs. I went to bed early last night and woke up this morning on top of the world! Thanks Jay.
It’s normal if we have the feeling that we want to quit. Usually if I have that feeling, I will take a brake and think about my first goals.
Thanks for sharing, Daphne and I love the title Just Keep Showing Up.
Arswino, the title was borrowed from Elizabeth Gilbert in the video – I love it too! You made a good point about taking a break to think about our ultimate goal. I’m going to do that!
Thank you, Daphne. This is quite a good worthy piece of work.
Putting together a message that gives to others–even if the bulk of it originates with others–is a worthy achievement of creativity, heart, and spirit. After all, even our most ‘original’ works never are the first appearance in the world of a message–only the first appearance of our offering (maybe) of the message.
To me, it’s the ‘showing up’, the sincere giving of the self (for the benefit of another) that is the great work.
blessings to you and all you hold dear,
Dear CG, you bring such a spirit of calm with you. Thank you for that. Yes you’re right – little of what we have to say is truly original. We just say it with a different voice, or maybe combine truths we have learnt elsewhere. I appreciate your heartening comment. Blessings to you too, CG.
I think one needs to “allow” in life. So allow yourself not to feel like writing. It will probably come in a tidal wave later!
Juliet, I love your optimism! Thanks for the reminder to allow myself. I think I’m just going to read for pleasure tonight and enjoy it! And I’m already looking forward to the tidal wave that’s going to come at some point… 😉 Thank you Juliet – your comment really cheered me up!
Yes! I am enjoying this post a lot. Thank you very much for sharing.
Eetion, thanks for dropping by and leaving such a positive comment. I visited your blog and it’s great! I’m sure it will go far.
The resourcefulness of your heart beams through these pages!
How you can infuse inspiration through your candidness is a remarkable gift that I marvel at!
What came up for me here is that it’s not just about “showing up” but the quality of the time you spend while doing it.
As a multi-dimentional artist, I cannot even begin to express the moments I have been plagued by the mere intensity of my passion for my creative talents…Oh, I do show up but sometimes I can simply drown by my lack of focus as to which medium to work in.
Sometimes, it can feel like a curse but once I get over the intensity, I am deeply grateful for the talents bestowed upon me.
More than just “showing up” I think it is initially the commitment to self…and choice is always synaptic.
Thank you for such an indepth post to inspire the creative artist in all of us!:~)
“The only thing that plagues genius is itself!” ~Henie~
Henie, sometimes I think that if I ever got near you in real life, your exuberance would zap me flat before I got within hearing distance of you!
Thanks for your lovely encouraging comment. You certainly are gifted in many ways – photography, drawing, writing. I’d be pulling my hair out if I were you, with so much in me that just had to be expressed. I’m thankful my gifts are much fewer and simpler 🙂
You’re truly a genius dear!
Oh my gosh, Daphne, I truly did not mean to intimate that I am a genius…I was thinking more in the line of artists like van Gogh, Basquiat, etc…
The only thing that plagues me is my passion!:)
Thank you, Daphne!:~)
Dear Henie, I know you didn’t mean that you were a genius. But I did! 🙂 I’ve been following your blog and in Elizabeth Gilbert’s words, some of your photos and words seem to be to be the work of a visiting genius. Sorry to have been ambiguous in my comment, and for any misunderstanding.
One thing not spoken of enough – not terribly inspiring, but true – is that in today’s publishing environment, no “marketing platform” (i.e., name recognition, regular public speaking – something to guarantee book sales) means no trade publisher. This has been true of nonfiction writing for some time now; I hear it’s also pretty much as true today for fiction.
Victoria Strauss is a great source of online info for writers – she has a blog and a web site. She’s especially good at pointing to the sharks in the water – the “publishers” who offer bogus marketing programs ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars in price to take advantage of the literary aspirations of people with no platforms.
Paul, this is the third reply I’m writing to your comment – the first two just disappeared! I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with my plugin.
Thanks for the reminder about rogue publishers and vanity houses. I will read up on Victoria Strauss if I ever decide to go into self-publishing!
Daphne, it’s all okay. 🙂 Like Lance said, it’s all just an ebb and flow. You might want to look at it as a time for resting and just go with it.
Showing up’s nice, and it’s useful, and even helpful… but I question whether it’s really that important. Some of us do great with regular schedules, but some of us just aren’t suited for them. I’ve found that if I try to just show up and push through, my mind starts to bog down even more. The more I push, the more I feel like I’m filling up with cement. LOL, it’s a little counterproductive. 😉 But, when I give myself permission to take a break, to rest, then I’m open, again, and the flow starts back up. Maybe this is true with you, too…
Julie, thanks for the wise words. It’s true that taking a break can do wonders, and it’s also true that just turning up can sometimes give enough momentum to get going in full force again. I suppose wisdom is knowing when to do which!
Your analogy of filling up with cement is very visual and kinesthetic – it makes me almost feel what it feels like for you! Thanks for sharing, it does help.
The problem is that at those times we don’t feel like showing up.
We may just need a break. We may need some support or just connection with others (especially in the beginning of blogging where you can just be writing into the void).
Evan, it’s funny that when I started blogging I didn’t care about writing into the void. I had so much to say that it all spilled out. It’s after 6 months now, even though I know wonderful readers are out there, that it’s become a little bit of a struggle. Weird huh? Thanks for commenting here.
Thank you so much for the link.
Yes, showing up is a big deal isn’t it? I am so glad you liked the video and it moved you like it did me.
There is a powerful lesson in it and thank you so much for sharing it on your blog!
Yes, sometimes our muse will take a break but more power to us for hanging in there, right?
Maya, it’s I who should thank you for finding the video. I wasn’t going to watch it when I saw it was 20 minutes but am ever so glad that I did after all. It spoke powerfully. And once again, I just love your doodles!
Hi, Daphne, First of all, let me compliment u for yr boundless enthu for trying out various lay-outs. I just love this colour combination the most with clean background and navy blue colour for special highlights.2ndly, hey, I truly share yr feelings – it takes a lot to just show up… But, trust me,you r doing it grandly – and I join all in saying that “ebb” is also a fundamentally necessary phase of the flow of life … only to build up into a peak once again at another point of time in future. Great going !!
Snigdha, thanks for your compliment about the site design. This is my favourite too – the navy blue and white. I’ll try to keep it this way for a while.
You’re so sweet with your words of encouragement. Thank you for the positive cheer!
Hey Daphne, thank you so much for this post and thank you so much for featuring a link to my sleepwalking article! 😀 On the contrary, I feel like you are coming through in this writing – it doesn’t feel like your muses are taking a break! I think working on site design is a great investment of time and energy because it sets the tonality for the site; I’ve spent a considerable amount of time for my new layout but I know it’s all worth it in the long term. I look forward to your next post! 🙂
Celes, sorry your comment went into moderation so it only just showed up. My first reply was also swallowed – I don’t know where it went! This is strange.
Thanks for your comment. You’re very welcome for the link, since you covered the topic much better and in greater depth than I was prepared to go into myself. Keep up your great writing!
I think there are times in life when we just need a break. The other side of it is that much success in life is just about showing up. Isn’t said that 80% of success is showing up? I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how “good” something is (judgment) it matters if it’s available.
It happens to everyone, like Lance said it’s part of the ebb and flow of life!
Stacey, yes I read that somewhere too – that a large part of success is just turning up. I think that’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s message to us in her speech. I like your point about being available being part of the value to people. Thank you!
Hi Daphne – Often we become over-concerned with the talent or skill with which we do something, but really, showing up everyday and being consistant are equally important (if not more!).
For my own blogging, the #1 priority with my writing is simply to post every week (whether or not I feel I’ve written a masterpiece! ;)) Towards the beginning of my blog, I was pretty inconsistent and decided to change that. I think it’s made my blog better.
Thank you for this post!
Amanda, when I started blogging I posted every day! Thank goodness I grew out of that insanity, and am happy to post twice a week now. Maybe I’ll adjust that to something more like yours – just posting something every week would be great. Thanks!
You are already “better” for allowing yourself to acknowledge the cycles of feeling pulled to do something and at times to do nothing.
You are exercising your freedom — freedom of moods, of interests, of choice…hurray for that!
Middle Way, doing nothing is sometimes a very attractive option. Thanks for the reminder that we have freedom to do nothing if we choose to… ah life is good after all!
I think of it as the ebb and flow of life – we go through periods where one thing is rising, and another may be falling. For me – as I’ve done more blogging, my exercise level has fallen off. I hope to pick it back up once the weather gets nicer here.
So, I love this post Daphne. As much as you might think it’s not your best work – it’s spoken from the heart – and it speaks a truth all of us go through. Times when that which we do can become more of a struggle. And in pointing that out, I’m more comfortable in that within myself. And for that, I thank you, my friend…
Lance, I knew I could count on you to make me feel better. Thank you for your uplifting words. Hey my exercise had fallen off too since blogging, and I don’t even have snow as an excuse. My fingers have become really agile though! 🙂
You made my Sunday morning start off on a lovely note, Lance. Thank you!