By Christina Katz
Beginning writers often struggle with permission issues. We may wonder, Who do we think we are to choose a path like writing? We may feel that writing is selfish or self-indulgent. We may struggle with negative internalized voices that tell us our work stinks or our efforts and energy are a waste of time. We may feel like we can’t write because it’s not practical, profitable or likely that we will succeed.
For anyone who has ever had any of this kind of stinkin’ thinkin’, I’d offer this: write anyway. Write because the mere act of writing is an act of self-expression and is therefore radical. Write because writing can move you from immobilized-by-self-doubt into empowered by self-confidence.
I should know. This is what writing has done for me. I use the word “empowered” purposely. It means to “give power to” and “to make powerful.” From my own experience, the power to put words on the page cannot come from anywhere else. Real power can only come from within. Empowerment comes from doing, even when you feel just the opposite of powerful-even when your own resistance bogs you down and threatens to drown you.
The more you dare to do, the more you fight the lure of entropy, the more empowered you will feel. Therefore:
No matter how impractical, you must write.
No matter how unlikely that you will succeed, you must write.
No matter how many other folks look at you askance, or question the devotion of your time, or even scowl or frown or ask if you are crazy, you still must write.
I say to hell with practicality. Show me a person who has said yes to his- or herself, and I see an empowered person. I can’t think of anything more refreshing than a person in touch with her expression in the world.
The world is full of no. The world is full of shadows and fear and dread. Real power comes from the inside. When you let yourself act on who you think you are, you can go from shackled to liberated. You can open the door to any prison you’ve formerly chosen to live inside and walk right out the door.
The word yes is like a magic elixir. Try it out for yourself. Just for one day, say yes to yourself all day. You feel like taking a break from work? Do it. You feel like screaming into a pillow while you pound on the bed with all your might. Do it. You feel like cranking up the music and dancing around wildly? Do. It. You feel like doing nothing? Do nothing.
Do you feel like writing?
I think you can probably see where I’m going with this.
If you want to write, write.
And take note. Deprivation, especially the kind that becomes monotonous, is a form of self-abuse and many have made an art form of it. Deprivation creates misery, which is a contagious disease.
By the way, don’t try to rescue miserable people. Save yourself instead. At the very least, put on your own air mask first.
Back to today. What’s it going to be? Do you want to take twenty minutes to let yourself write today? It sure beats being miserable.
I say, let yourself write. Let your words rip and roar. It really is the best revenge and it just might save your life.
Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). She started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on Good Morning America. She teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.