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Monday, April 11, 2022

Giving Yourself Permission to Write

We've been talking about craft a lot lately (I mean, that's what my blog is largely about!), but I've had something on my mind for a while that I wanted to do a short post on. So I decided to take a break from the deep stuff this week to cover it. Now, this won't be a post for everyone. This is mostly for the aspiring writers. But even those who are more seasoned may benefit from the reminder. . . .

Being a writer is kind of an odd path to pursue because you do a lot of the work alone. Don't get me wrong, there is a writing community, and writing groups, and online writing websites, but the actual process of writing is really between the writer and the page (most of the time).

And frankly, the average person doesn't have a clue of what that entails. Unless you are surrounded by writers, most people don't really understand or care about what you are trying to do.

On the other hand, a lot of people in the world want to be writers. But I've sometimes been surprised by how many people don't give themselves permission to write.

Because that's exactly what you need to do.

No one else is coming to make sure you do it. (Well, unless you set up an accountability system.)

You need to be the person who gives yourself permission. Not your spouse. Not your teacher. Not your neighbor. Not your mom or dad or writing idol.

This is on you.

Sometimes this fact can be a little scary. We may feel unsure or insecure. We may wonder if we really are writers. Not to mention that, in general, so many other areas of our lives depend on other people. Our grades are given to us by teachers. Our parents gave us rules. Our mentors told us what to do.

Sometimes, we might want someone to validate that we are writers before we write.

But ultimately, it's about you. You are the person who wants to write. You are the person who will be doing the writing.

You need to give yourself permission to do this.

You need to be your own writing advocate.

Sure, there may be some people who can help and guide you along the way, but at the end of the day, it's on you.

Because of the way our society is structured, I've more than once found myself seeking permission that I didn't need, to do something, even if I didn't realize that's what I was doing at the time.

I wondered sometimes if I could freelance edit, but ultimately, it took someone else to tell me on their own they thought I could. That's not a bad thing, of course, but I sometimes wonder if I could have been doing that sooner if I'd just given myself permission to pursue it, instead of waiting for someone to validate that idea.

Getting permission is not to be confused with getting advice. If you are unsure about something, it's often a good idea to get insight from someone else. But by definition, true advice is meant to help guide you, not control you.

A lot of things in the writing industry don't require permission. You don't need to get the go-ahead from someone higher up to write a book, to write a query, to submit to agents, to promote your work. Because for a lot of this industry, ultimately, you are your own boss.

This is not to say you shouldn't take your other responsibilities and obligations into account. Maybe you have a very sick child, and they need to be your main focus right now. That's fine. We all have lives and schedules to balance, and there may be seasons where you literally can't fit in writing.

At the end of the day, though, this is your thing, this is what you want to do, and it's on you!

Isn't it wonderful that you don't need anyone else's permission to do it?

If you've been waiting around for some kind of sign to write because you want to, this is me giving you permission to give yourself permission. How much and how often you write is up to you and your goals and current lifestyle. But please remember you don't need anyone else's permission to write something. 

I know this is a simple post, and usually I cover much more complex concepts. But this simple thing is an important thing. Every great writer had to give themselves permission to pursue writing.

Now go write!


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