MetroWest Writers’ Guild

The Meaning of My Empty Sticker Sheet

E.A. Brady writes contemporary, open-door romance books about everyday people in fictionalized New England settings. When she isn’t reading or writing, she is working on her Muay Thai skills or hanging with her family in the Boston suburbs. Visit her website to learn more about her books or head over and hang with her on Instagram.

This probably doesn’t look like much more than an empty sticker sheet that needs to be tossed in the trash. That’s because it is an empty sticker sheet that needs to be tossed in the trash.

But not quite yet.

Because, despite its appearance as simply an empty sticker sheet, it’s more than that. 

A lot more.

Those negative spaces where the stickers used to be is a powerful visual representation of the times I actively worked at pulling words out of my brain and putting them on paper/screen.

This is a visual representation of the times I picked up a book or took an online class on craft or on the business side of being a writer.

This is a visual representation of hitting ‘send’ on the first newsletter I’d ever written, even though my mailing list only had ten people on it – including myself.

There used to be one hundred little stickers on that now empty sheet, which means this is a visual representation of one hundred small steps toward my goal of becoming a published author. 

The funny thing is – the motivational part of the exercise of putting stickers on my calendar was supposed to be the stickers themselves. The theory is that once you start putting stickers on the squares (or the Seinfeld-inspired chain of red Xs) you will train your brain to want that little dopamine hit when you do it the next day. And the next day. And the next day.

love putting stickers on my calendar. It is surprisingly effective at convincing me to get my butt in the chair to get work done on days when I would rather not. 

What I wasn’t prepared for was the huge dopamine hit when I removed the empty sticker sheet from my day planner to replace it with a new one. 

The new sheet was full of possibilities and excitement of what’s to come.

But the old, used up, empty one? That was full of successes and effort and hard work. And best of all? It was full of a surprisingly deep sense of satisfaction. 

Satisfaction at the time I have invested in myself and my work and even my business. (Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that being a writer is synonymous with being a small business owner. Kinda diggin’ that, though!)

Thankfully, my newsletter list has grown since that first campaign and my collection of stickers has grown right along with it. I now have two books published on Amazon with a third coming out this November. 

The one thing that’s still the same? Every day, I get that same little hit of dopamine when I peel off a pink smiley face or a green star and attach it to the calendar.

Here’s to the next hundred small steps and the hundred after that and the hundred after that!

One response to “The Meaning of My Empty Sticker Sheet”

  1. Such a great visual representation of your success, Emily!! I REALLY need to get in the sticker game, but here’s where I get tripped up: I don’t use a paper calendar, don’t really do anything on paper (I can’t un-glue myself from a computer), and need to find the right stickers (I’m pretty close on that one!) I need to take a step back and remember that writing isn’t just getting words on the page: it’s also setting myself up for future success as an author, which means wearing many different hats. Thanks for reminding me of that!

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