Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why Wait for Permission?

Waiting for permission to write your book?  Explore watercolors?  Wear good clothes?  What on earth are you waiting for?  Here are my top 12 reasons why you shouldn't wait a minute longer:

1.  No one is going to give you permission.  Only you can decide to attend a writer's conference, experiment with felt collage, or keep a dream journal.

2.  Every day spent waiting in line for your passport to creative freedom is a day wasted and lost--a day you'll resent and feel bad about.  And who wants to feel bad?

3.  My favorite quote from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way: Q: "Do you know how old I'll be by the time I learn to play the piano?"  A: "The same age you will be if you don't."  I would rather look back on my life knowing I had attempted to follow my dreams--results aside--rather than wonder, "What if?"

4.  Waiting for anything is annoying.  The only way I can tolerate waiting is to do something else, like read a book or doodle in my journal.  Which means if you're doing something else you're no longer waiting--you're doing.  Hey, you're working on your dream without even knowing it!
5.  Waiting is passive--anyone can do it, with or without permission.  Action creates energy; once you start a project, it can take on a snowball effect.  One page leads to another...you'll be finished before anyone can stop you and say, "No--don't do that!"

6.  Waiting for permission can keep us stuck in creative professional ruts:  we've always written for children, or we've always written poems of exactly 17 lines each, and our editors and readers like it that way.  If you really want to experiment with a new form or genre, take a chance and break out of the mold without telling anyone.  You can always use a pseudonym or say the cat painted your latest masterpiece if it's completely different from your usual style.

7.  Waiting for permission provides too good of a pay-off to the nay-sayers and toxic playmates in our lives.  As long as you stay in the waiting mode, they'll never be threatened or have to compete with you.

8.  Remember when you wanted to do something or go somewhere as a child and the adults in your life said, "No!"  And you did it anyway?  Fun, wasn't it?

9.  Even if you did get grounded for a week, you're the grown-up now, and you can make your own decisions.  Art-making is rarely dangerous (unless you're working with fire).  It might get your clothes dirty, but it won't put you in bad company, ruin your grades, or rot your teeth.

10.  Admittedly, there are some things we do need permission for, such as spending the entire family savings on a trip to Italy to research that novel set in ancient Rome, or to rent a 5,000 square foot studio because all "real artists have studios."  However, even when choices can't be made without consulting others, there's nothing stopping you from saving up for a trip to a nearby museum, or clearing out a section of your garage to make room for a desk or easel.

11.  Even with no time, no money, and no support you can stop waiting and take baby steps.  Libraries are full of books on writing and art instruction.  Craft items can be found for pennies at thrift stores.  Connect with your creative friends via Twitter or Facebook to start an online support system.

12.  A common reason to wait for permission or for "the right time" is to simply protect our creative selves from the bullies of the world:  rejection, criticism, indifference, ridicule--it all hurts.  But a coddled child is an unhealthy child.  So kick off your shoes and let your creative self play in the dirt--one of the best ways known to build up the immune system!

Tip of the Day:  What creative dream(s) have you put on hold because you are waiting for permission to start?  Make a list followed by an action plan outlining the best way for you to begin doing, rather than waiting.


LadyD said...

This is a great post, full of wisdom!
An editor friend of mine said, "You are free to create even the worst junk in the world, if you want to!"

Indeed, there's no "writer's police", so just do it and get 'er done. I hear you Valerie, thank you! :)

Vienna250 said...

Thank you so much for this post! I'm going to print out a huge copy of that quote from The Artist's Way and put it where I can see it every day!

mssuzcatsilver said...

Great post Valerie. I had bought some canvases ages ago & I was finally inspired to actually create some of my abstract art on them (that I have been doing since I left school)and they are now available for sale in Glasgow & Ayr.

Suz x

Man Martin said...

Great post. It always saddens me to hear someone say, "I'd love to write (or draw, or perform)" as soon as I retire, or save up enough money, or win the lottery. Time's a wastin'! Don't delay! Start living today!