I’ve subscribed to smart fresh updates from my friend and business writer Rebecca Leigh. The other day, I got this great story in my inbox.
I immediately thought of you. Because writing is that thing you want to do but struggle with. And what Rebecca wrote was so inspiring and powerful.
So, I asked Rebecca if I could share her smart fresh writing about writing with you. She said yes.
There once was a writer who couldn’t write.
Well, not very easily. Or, as easily as she thought she should.
She would get up each morning and sit in front of her computer, “until drops of blood formed on her forehead” as the quote by Gene Fowler goes. And the words came. Haltingly, slowly.
She suspected that a ‘real writer’ wouldn’t find the task so hard.
She questioned her motivations, her intent, her will. She labelled herself lazy and talentless and hopeless. But she kept going because her writing seemed to help people. And in truth, wherever she turned her mind, it seemed to return to writing.
Finally, in desperation, she decided to turn the problem upside down. To observe the reality of what was happening when she wrote, step by step.
Unsurprisingly, the more she observed, the more she noticed.
She noticed that although she was able to write most freely in the morning, writing at the computer was often like pushing through sludge. She also noticed that when she was really stuck, she would walk away from the computer and use pen and paper – and this always helped.
She had some theories about why this was, but those are unimportant to this story.
What is important is that it occurred to the writer that perhaps it would be easier if she always used pen and paper to begin.
But she immediately dismissed the idea because it was inefficient.
And because everyone else managed to write with computers so why not her? And because it seemed so self indulgent and unnecessarily eccentric.
So she struggled on, and tried to get better at writing on the computer. Which didn’t work well at all.
Finally, she realised that the reason she wasn’t writing the way she knew worked best for her was because she didn’t think she was “allowed”.
Whose permission did she really need?
Only her own.
So she gave herself permission to write in whatever way was easiest. And, at first slowly, and then remarkably quickly, the writing did come more easily. And whenever she opened her notebook to write, her heart felt a little lighter.
After that she gave herself permission to do all sorts of things in whatever way worked for her. And many things became much easier and more joyful.
So I ask you…
Is there something (big or small) you are doing a certain way because “that’s the way it’s done” or “allowing myself to do it my own way would be self indulgent”?
Can you give yourself permission to try it your way, even if for just a little while?
Is how you’ve been trying to write getting in your way of actually writing? Do you worry about efficiency? What do you want to try that seems inefficient, self-indulgent, or just downright not-scholarly? I’d love you to share in the comments.