Welcome to How to Keep Writing Wednesdays, where you'll find a boost of encouragement to help you keep the words flowing.

Happy Accidents

Remember Bob Ross, artist and host of the television show, The Joy of Painting? The show ran on PBS for over ten years. He taught viewers how to paint with oils, breaking down the process into easy-to-understand steps.

In every show he offered words of simple wisdom, encouraging people to experiment and have fun. He used to say that there were no mistakes, just happy little accidents. An errant streak across the canvas became a stream, a drop of yellow paint became a cluster of leaves dappled in sunlight.

When we look at our lives through the lens of time and experience, we can see that something we once thought of as unfortunate or unlucky may have resulted in an outcome that we wouldn’t have otherwise experienced.

The stories of our lives ask that we write them down so that we don’t forget. They ask that we  appreciate each step of our journey, even the mistakes that haven’t yet been revealed as happy accidents. They ask that you share your story with others, so they can find their own happy accidents, too.

Sound like a big task? Start small. Start with one memory, one story. Write it, refine it, let it sit for a bit and then come back to it. Tinker with it some more. Share it with someone close to you, someone you trust, and ask them what they liked, what confused them, what they want more of. Keep examining and polishing the piece until it shines and becomes something you’re proud of. From there you can go anywhere—give copies for friends and family, submit it to magazines or literary journals, use it as the jumping off point for a book-length memoir, or simply keep it to yourself. 

Then write another one.