5 Tools Creators Can Use To Show Up Even On The Hard Days

Ev Chapman
March 3, 2022

Creators who master showing up daily are winning against 95% of everyone else.

Except showing up daily is hard. There are a million other things that want our attention. And when we’re starting out it’s hard to see where all this ‘creating’ is going. Plenty of people in my real life asked me that question.

They couldn’t see the long game plan.

But after a year of showing up, I’m now starting to see how all that showing up has paid off. I have grown a substantial audience on Twitter as well as my own newsletter. I have multiple paid products that bring in between $1k & $3k per month. And I have a heck of a lot of published words on the screen that are seen by thousands of people every day.

Except it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are hard days, days where I have no energy, days when life (& work) gets in the way. So I assembled a few tricks to help me show up even on the shitty days.

Let’s get into them…

Work A Little Overtime On Your Good Days

It’s always easy to put in a little extra effort when the creative juices are flowing. I’m the kind of creator that when I’m in the zone, I literally can’t stop until all that creativeness is played out. So I like to use that momentum energy to squirrel a little away for the harder days:

  • Do an extra brain dump. On days when I’m feeling really creative, I’ll grab a bunch of ideas from my ideas list, go through each one and brain dump a whole lot of words into it. This doesn’t feel hard at all when I’m in a creative zone. But on the days where I’m just not feeling it, I’m so grateful I have those words to work with already.
  • Write 10 extra ideas. When creative juices are flowing it’s easy to pump out some ideas to write about. James Altucher says ideas are the currency of life and pushes himself to write 10 every day. I don’t write 10 every day, but I find if I can pump out 10 new article or essay ideas on a good day that’s enough to get me through any bad patch.
  • Research a topic I want to write about. I love going down internet rabbit holes when I’m feeling creative. There’s something about the wave of creative energy that makes big research topics feel effortless. So I’ll do a heap of reading, clipping & note-taking while I’m on that creative wave.

By doing a little overtime on your good days your future self will be thanking you on the tougher days when it’s a little tougher.

Create A Minimum Viable Ship

Each week I have my ideal content plan and then I have my minimum viable ship. If everything goes exactly to plan and all the universe aligns, my content plan is pulled off.

But if I have a busy week at work, or I’m sick, or you know floods or fires or whatever else life decides to throw my way, I commit to just my minimum viable ship rather than not showing up at all.

Ideally, my plan is to write 3 Atomic Essays, 2 Medium Articles & ship a newsletter each week. My minimum viable ship is simply 3 Atomic Essays on Twitter that week.

I know that without too much effort I can get those 3 essays out despite what else is going on. So rather than just giving up and not shipping (which I’ve done before), I still get to show up.

And showing up makes me feel proud. It builds my showing up muscle so it eventually gets easier. And the momentum and compounding interest kicks into gear the more I show up.

Make a decision now about what your minimum viable ship will look like. If you had the worst week of your how could you still show up?

Set Constraints

Most creators I talk to balk at constraints. Because when you’re riding high on creative motivation constraints make no sense at all. Try telling my creative brain at 2am to shut down the computer & go to sleep when I’m deep in an internet rabbit hole that has lit up my brain.

It’s just not going to listen to you.

But on the hard days constraints are your lifeline when you’re drowning.

  • Set A Timer. There is something about a timer that gets my blood pumping. When I’m highly unmotivated I love to set a Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes and write till the timer goes off. Then I give myself some kind of reward. If I’m feeling really unmotivated I’ll do just 10 minutes.
  • Write To A Word Count. I’m obsessed with the Atomic Essay format on Twitter. Rather than the constraint of 250–300 words being restrictive. It fuels my creativity. And on hard days that takes almost no effort at all. But it’s still enough to get a substantial idea out into the world.
  • Commit To Just One Task. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that you could possibly do as a creator. So I commit to just one Next Obvious Action. Rather than trying to do all the things, I choose one thing that will move a project forward. It could be reaching out to someone on Twitter, gathering some research for an article, or even writing a headline. You’ll be surprised how quickly you move along this way.

Use Prompts

On days I’m feeling like crap and no ideas are coming to the surface (yep, I have those days!) I pull out my trusty #ship30for30 prompts and put myself on auto-pilot.

Stop bullying yourself into thinking that every idea has to be some original idea from the skies. On your worst days that is just a recipe for disaster. You’ll burn out pretty quickly this way.

Instead, start collecting a list of writing prompts that you can use to just plug into. If you use Notion you could build a database of them that you pull up when you’re not feeling inspired.

Prompts are the easiest way to get something published even on your hard days.

Remix Your Old Content

You might already have a library of great content (& if you don’t you soon will if you learn to master showing up on the hard days). Use your library to become a master of the remix.

  • Pull out old content and add something new. Hitting publish on something is not the end product, it’s only the beginning. Lots of people ask questions once I publish an essay on Twitter and it always fuels new ideas. So pull out an old essay or article and add something to it.
  • Mash a few ideas from old content into something new. I love to take a few different essays and mash them into an article or thread. Use your content like Lego bricks constantly breaking them apart into atomic ideas and building them in different ways.
  • Expand on tweets. I often look back on tweets that have particularly good engagement and try and build on the idea in a longer essay or article. It’s a great way to test ideas to see what is likely to hit with your audience again.

At the end of the day showing up is like building a muscle… The more you show up, the more you build the muscle. And the more you build the muscle the easier it becomes to show up.

Assemble your own toolkit for showing up on hard days and let’s build some muscle

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