On the Tuesday morning that I cried in the shower, something very freeing happened. I let go of the rules I had imposed upon myself and gave myself permission to write about anything I wanted – simply for the joy of putting “pen to paper” as it were. (Except, of course, it’s rare anyone actually puts pen to paper these days. Maybe I should have said, ‘fingers to keyboard’).
I don’t believe I was aware of how immobilizing my good intentions were. The truth is facing the tables I had created to chart my progress only charted failure. I could never meet the high expectations I had set for myself. They had to go.
I know there are plenty of writers, teachers and life coaches who would suggest I’m making a terrible mistake. That if I don’t have a plan – if I can’t see a clearly defined goal – then I have no chance of reaching it. I’m willing to take that risk.
Besides, I do have a goal. It’s simple: be a better writer.
You’re right. It’s a goal that can’t be quantified. I won’t be able to – in five weeks or five months or five years – announce to the world “I’ve done it. I am now a Better Writer.” It will require faith. And it will require that I let go. I have to believe that if relinquish control of the flow chart that took over my life and instead find the strength to build a deep and unshakable foundation of discipline – if I write every day, relentlessly, without fail, about anything I want – then I will learn how to write. I will be a better writer. Goal.
As much as I would like, someday, to have those other things – a book to call my own and an audience who want to read it – I must consider this time in my career as a writer a precious gift. This is my time to explore, to make mistakes, to discover if I have an affinity for fiction or personal essay. It’s my time to provide myself the space to discover who I am as a writer.
And that’s what I’m going to do.