This story is part of a series on Writing and Permission that was commissioned by Cori Howard, the instructor of the SheWrites
online class, Writing for Moms. The topic evolved in one of her online forums in which women started to discuss how hard it was
to give themselves permission to write and to be writers. These are the stories they came up with. The next session of SheWrites
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut. I dreamed of studying science and someday flying off on a space shuttle and landing on Mars. And then I found out that most astronauts don’t actually get to fly into space. If they are lucky, they work for NASA in mission control. The odds of actually going into space are slim to none.
When I was a little bit older, I dreamed of being a paleontologist. Me and Indiana Jones, digging through dirt to find the connection between caveman and modern man. Then I found out I could dig through dirt all my life and never find a single bone, caveman, modern man or chicken.
I majored in accounting instead. The odds were much greater to become a Certified Public Accountant than to be the next John Glenn or Indiana Jones.
That is the story of my life. Take the safe route. Do what comes natural and easy. Not that I was a math whiz when I decided to major in accounting, but contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to be a math whiz to be an accountant. That’s what calculators are for.
I call my problem “Paralyzed by Perfection.” Maybe I read it in Oprah’s magazine, saw it on Dr. Phil, or maybe I just invented it myself. In any case, it’s a bit of a problem when you want to stretch yourself and push your limits.
And now I find myself a stay-at-home mom of three school-aged children and I’m trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life...or at least what the next phase will be. I enjoy writing. I want to be a writer. I chronicle bits and pieces of my life and want to put them all together. I have lots of ideas for novels floating around in my head. I would love to write a book.
Here’s the problem: I want a New York Times best seller. I want to see my book on the front table of Chapters or Barnes & Noble. I want it to be featured as a Target Bookmarked selection. But first I have to write something. Anything. And that’s where the hard part comes in. I have to write something. You can’t write a novel of any caliber, New York Times best seller or bargain bin clearance at Big Lots, if you don’t actually write one.single.word.
I have to give myself permission to write one single word. And then another. And another. I have to give myself permission to write something that may very well be crap. I have to let go of the desire to be perfect. To be the best. To not fail. Because writing is a process. It is not possible to just sit down and type and type and type and then, voila!, publish a best selling novel.
It’s easy to say I can’t write today because there are dishes in the sink, laundry in the hamper, kids needing rides to hockey practice, a book fair to run at school. It’s easy to say that’s why I can’t write today. The real reason I don’t write today is because I am afraid what I write will not be perfect. All those other things are just excuses for why I can’t write. It’s not that I can’t write, it’s that I don’t write. The truth is, I can write today. I can write something. I can write one word. And another. And another. And accept the fact that the writing may be not very good. It may be bad. It may, in fact, be terrible. I need to give myself permission to write something that is not the best. Because tomorrow is another day and I can write another word then. And follow that with another. And another. And maybe, one day, I will write something that is publishable. That someone else wants to read. I just need to give myself permission to begin.
What holds you back from writing? What stops you from trying new things everyday? When I told my son I was going to have my writing posted on a blog today, he said “So, are you going to be an author today? Are you an author? I'm going to tell my friends at school that my mom is an author.” And I said yes. Yes, I am an author. I am a writer today and every day. Are you?