You Have Permission

You can’t write that.

You can’t think that.

You can’t imagine those things.

You don’t have permission to be that person, to think like that, to write like that, to publish that.

You’re a nice girl. What will people think of you?

Stamp 'Permission Granted'That’s my inner critic speaking, but I’ve also heard those words echoed from people close to me over the years. I think it’s only been in the last six months that I have given myself permission to let the raw side of me loose on the page. I’m finally finding my voice.

It’s scary as hell because it turns out my stories are dark and twisty, but it’s also empowering and liberating to let my mind have a free rein.

But I have to keep reminding myself that I have permission to write. Or I would stay safe in the shallows. 

A friend told me the other day that I’ve changed since I became a full time writer. But I think it’s just that the inner me is finally making it to the surface after years of suppression and doing what I was supposed to do.

And how has this change in me come about?

I’ve been writing journals for 20 years but blogging here for nearly 5 years has changed me far more. Because clicking the Publish button has made me think more deeply about what I want to say.

Because these words are going into the world, and people may well read them.

Because I have met writers who have challenged me to go deeper.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time have witnessed the change as I’ve shared the journey with all its ups and downs.

Clicking the Publish button on Amazon or the other distributors has the same effect. It makes us braver over time, because we have to keep bringing our best to the page and we get almost instant feedback from readers.

This is the beauty of self publishing, because we don’t need permission anymore.

If I hadn’t self published Pentecost four years ago, or clicked Publish on this blog, I would still be a miserable IT consultant, talking about writing but not doing it.

If I hadn’t persisted through three novels, I would not be finding my voice in the fourth.

If I had asked permission, or if I had waited to be picked, I would still be dreaming of what might have been.

Of course, permission to write and self-publish doesn’t mean you’ll get it right the first time.

It doesn’t guarantee Hugh Howey or Amanda Hocking type success.

But it shifts you inside, it forces you to go further creatively. It enables you to clear the way for the next step, and after all, the writer’s life is a journey of discovery, not a destination.

So you have permission. You are empowered.

To write.

To publish.

To connect with readers and writers all over the globe.

I’m done with taming the crazy. I’m giving myself permission. How about you?

Please do leave a comment below if this resonates with you. This is our community, and I sincerely thank you for sharing it with me.

This post was inspired by an article on agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog entitled ‘Will My Publisher Let Me Self-Publish Too?which sparked a lot of passionate comment and offended me over the aspect of permission. Rachelle has since published a Mea Culpa article.

Top image: Stamp permission granted from Big Stock Photo

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you Joanna,

    I am working on a manuscript that chronicles the reality of parenting a child on the Autism Spectrum – getting lots of “rejects,” and this is that bit of motivation that I needed. Writing is a solitary profession and friends and loved ones tend to be biase and say “it’s great,” which leaves you to wonder if it really is.

    Like you, I have had a career in anything but writing, and that is what I studied (Enlgish major) and what I am passionate about.

    Good for you for chasing it, and catching it – thanks again.

    Lisa Vezeau-Allen

  2. says

    Thank you for this post. For reminding us that we have permission to write.
    I think it’s important to realize that we shouldn’t expect *everyone* to love what we write, instead we write for ourselves, but also for those that get it, and love what we put out- the way we put out- without alterations!

  3. says

    I should certainly HOPE it changed you to become a full time author entrepreneur! I’d be both frightened and rather disgusted if it hadn’t. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    I am OVER people projecting their limitations onto me, or you, or anyone else. I’ve never been much for letting them do it anyway, but now I’m pretty vocal about keeping their attitude of poverty to themselves. And that’s all this whole issue is about: creative people challenging the shallow values of the rest of the world. It’s always been that way and it always will be, making us a critical element of a balanced world.

    The biggest truth I’ve learned over the years is that me giving myself permission to simply create, regardless of the medium, is often upsetting to other people. My willingness to take risks challenges them to look critically at their own safe lives, something they really, truly do not want to do. I’m amazed at how many people will often go to far greater lengths (and often, real risk) to avoid any perceived risk or feelings of insecurity.

    Look, I’m no fan of feeling insecure myself, and it’s really scary and sometimes downright awful to go through it. But that’s when I realize I’m most alive, when things are difficult and I’m forced to deal with them. And creating is hard like that. My experience tells me that if I stay strong and true to my own vision, I will come out the other side. And from that vantage point, all I see is a courageous artist who didn’t listen to the fraidy cats. Who doesn’t want to see themselves this way?

    The fact is, there’s enough joy and wonder and abundance in all things in this world for everyone to have enough. But creative people working reminds others that they may not make a lot of money doing so, and that scares them into submission to their own attitude of poverty. What ends up truly impoverished are the spirits of these unfortunate, scared individuals.

    Honoring one’s creative urge is, I’m convinced, no longer a luxury (if indeed it ever was, and I don’t think so). This world’s modern problems call for guts and strength and belief in one’s own original ideas and voice. If not us, then who? If not now, when? I’m okay rocking the boats of those who would rather I just leave them alone to their cozy little self-imposed limitations. If living my writer’s life out loud is how I do it, then good for me. And for them, if they’d just pay attention.

    Thanks for this great post, Joanna. We don’t need anyone’s permission to exercise the gifts we’ve been given. When did we ever allow ourselves to be brainwashed into thinking we did?

    • Skipp Lovejoy says

      Right on the money Mary Shafer. Been around for eighty-five years and if I ever listened to those folks … family and otherwise who told me NO … I would have never had a damn thing! In fact … I want to thank all those folks who told me NO. It just made me try harder. And do it my way. And over the years I won quite a few. Of course you can’t win all the time. I just got up to fight another day. Anyway, I did get to be a published author in my field of expertise! And made a few bucks at it too!

  4. says

    Skipp Lovejoy is an inspiration! More of us who are advanced in age need to echo his mentoring. At 71, I’m a little behind him, but if I had listened to small minded people I would have had a dreary life instead of my successful career as a writer and international corporate trainer.

    As a Southern boy, I even experienced one of the most absurd observations ever. When the father of a school buddy complimented my stepfather on some honor I had received, his reply was, “We don’t talk about such things. We don’t want him to git above his raisin’.” Imagine! Most parents insist on helping their children do better than they did.

    Fortunately, I had inspired teachers at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio who encouraged me to be confident and productive.

    Message to young people: whatever you do — don’t allow ignorant people to stifle your imagination and ambition. Prove them wrong! (It is such a satisfying feeling, believe me!)

    • Skipp Lovejoy says

      Good for you Jay. I always say! No Guts! No Glory! And if you “Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get!

  5. Susan Gaissert says

    Thanks for this post. I have given myself permission to write, but I am still struggling with the actual act of sitting myself down on a regular basis and getting the work done. I do believe that it will happen. Giving yourself permission is an important first step.

  6. Nicole says

    Yes, this resonates with me! I am nearing the end of my first real novel and as I’ve been writing, I have felt like I needed permission to write a certain way, to speak of certain things. “You’re a nice girl. What would people think of you?” Exactly my struggle. But I am giving myself permission to write the story that’s in my heart and not worry about pleasing the few that are too quick to judge. I am enjoying your blog, by the way. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful insights.

  7. Dorothy Bruce says

    My first self-published book, In the Wake of the Coup, is a satirical political novel. People look at me with wonder in their eyes, ready to dismiss it, as most things with any whiff of political are dismissed, but I tell them it’s a novel about people — people who don’t always fit into neat pigeonholes, people who are passionate and apathetic, people who can surprise in many different ways. They look more understanding but then question why I have brought the monarchy into it. Well why not? I ask. Surely when we write we should be able to throw present set-ups into the air and see in what configuration they land. Surely writing should not be about reinforcing cosy certainties but about challenging to think that things could be different. I’m not so sure many readers believe this unless they read sci-fi or are into vampires. But thank you for the encouragement.

  8. says

    Trying yet again. Urrrgh!

    My first self-published book, In the Wake of the Coup, is a satirical political novel. People look at me with wonder in their eyes, ready to dismiss it, as most things with any whiff of political are dismissed, but I tell them it’s a novel about people — people who don’t always fit into neat pigeonholes, people who are passionate and apathetic, people who can surprise in many different ways. They look more understanding but then question why I have brought the monarchy into it. Well why not? I ask. Surely when we write we should be able to throw present set-ups into the air and see in what configuration they land. Surely writing should not be about reinforcing cosy certainties but about challenging to think that things could be different. I’m not so sure many readers believe this unless they read sci-fi or are into vampires. But thank you for the encouragement.

  9. says

    This post definitely resonates with me. For most of my life, I’ve followed the safe path and held off on my writing for “when I had time.” With this year’s NaNoWriMo, I’ve made time, despite being in the middle of buying and moving into a home, and working a full-time job. Starting November 1st, and from every day forward, I’ve been giving myself permission to let writing take precedence. What I’ve learned is, it makes me feel better about myself than any other thing I’m doing, because writing isn’t just taking me to what I want to be (a writer), it’s also a journey in and of itself that I want to keep making, over and over, the rest of my life. To the rest of you out there reading this post and debating it, WRITE. Don’t wait for time; take it!

  10. says

    What a timely post this is for me, Joanna. I’ve been learning to tolerate the discomfort of feeling vulnerable when I click Publish on anything at all — including comments like this one. Usually I wake up at 3 a.m. and have a powerful urge to scurry back to my computer and delete whatever I’ve put out there. But – nothing risked, nothing gained, and it is clearly far more damaging emotionally to keep stuffing our truth back inside. The way over the hurdle, I think, is just to keep doing the uncomfortable thing over and over until we get desensitized to the feelings of fear and vulnerability.

    Thanks for this great post!

  11. Jean Kotzur says

    I was born in the middle of WWII and the principles of parenting were very different from today. If I was discovered reading or writing my mother gave me a household chore to complete. She always said that if I had nothing to do there was always plenty of housework. Of course, there was plenty of housework without all the mod cons we have today, but the problem was that reading and writing outside of school hours was considered a waste of time. This guilty conscience remained with me until I retired. It was then that I realised that I was head of the family and I could influence the younger ones. My grandchildren take a delight in languages and expression of thought and I take a delight in writing whenever and wherever I want. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by people who consider they know better. If non-writers knew better we would have nothing to read.

  12. Betty says

    I need to write, but I don’t know how to get past being invisible. I started a blog, and have had about 400 visits, but no responses. Not even from family. No feedback at all. It has been said that writing is a solitary life, and indeed it is for me. Perhaps I should write about this.

    • Jean Kotzur says

      Hallo Betty,

      Just a few things that may (or may not) enhance the visits to your Blog. Do you just wait for responses or do you comment on other Blogs and/or Interesting Comments you see on the web? Being active and having your name under interesting comments or advice can work wonders. I have picked up quite a few solutions to some of my small writing problems through reading and commenting on other peoples’ responses to web-published writing. Join a couple of internet writing circles and publish some of your articles, or other works, for constructive comment. More than anything be inter-active with other writers. Writing does not have to be a completely lonely profession.
      Good Luck.

      Jean Kotzur

  13. Susan Gaissert says

    To Betty, the previous commenter: As a former blogger, I know it’s important to reach out to others who blog on similar subjects. I certainly never reached star status with my blog, but once I discovered other bloggers and commented on their blogs,I did see my audience grow. i even made some wonderful virtual friends. Best wishes.

    • says

      To Betty:

      I completely sympathize – I’ve been blogging for years and have treated my blog as sort of a personal journal. While I think I blog about relevant topics, I’m never sure if anyone out there would really be interested in my blogging voice, as opposed to my stories. Good luck with your blog, though! If it’s something you care about, it’s definitely worth doing and trying to find readers for it.

      To Susan:

      Your advice is really good, but how does one go about it? I’m curious if there are any books to read, or advice blogs on how to find people to reach out to? I worry that if I reach out to a blogger who’s too well-known and popular they won’t respond. How do you find people on your same level, or should you go for the bigger bloggers? Any tips would be really helpful! Thanks!

      • Susan Gaissert says

        Aim high. I reached out to big time bloggers and they did respond. I think that anyone who is serious about blogging would respond. I’ve found bloggers to be very friendly people. : ) I don’t know about any books. Just reach out, in as many ways as possible. Best wishes.

  14. Hannes says

    Hi
    You are right. I am where you use to be (forgive my English I am Afrikaans and well supposedly you can see it will be better that way, although in all honesty, English has much more and better describing words than Afrikaans ) I do have enough time to write now…….but the “am I good enough?” problem keeps on popping up. Thank you for the encouragement

  15. says

    I have had a rough life so far but I have finally found the courage to put a voice to my thoughts and stories. I am very inspired by what I have decided to do. Please check out my web site. I describe myself pretty well there. And like Jack Canfield says, )’I am the upcoming author of Mirror Souls (Surviving a relationship with a Sociopath)” This keeps changing, but I finally got the guts to go after my dream. Some people will hate me more than they already do but Hey! They already hate me so who cares about what they think I don’t anymore.

  16. says

    I have had a rough life so far but I have finally found the courage to put a voice to my thoughts and stories. I am very inspired by what I have decided to do. Please check out my web site. I describe myself pretty well there. And like Jack Canfield says, ‘I am the upcoming author of Mirror Souls (Surviving a relationship with a Sociopath)” This keeps changing, but I finally got the guts to go after my dream. Some people will hate me more than they already do but Hey! They already hate me so who cares about what they think I don’t anymore.

  17. says

    To write I had to give up classroom teaching which I enjoyed three years ago, but have been able to manage to continue private tutoring. I write dark tales and supernatural horror and have self published a novella, two novels and have a full manuscript for another. The writing is difficult in terms of demanding discipline, but I am finding the marketing and publicity very challenging. I needed to read your article as I often find myself held hostage to gratuitous advice that it is going to be almost impossible for me to make an income from self publishing. Despite writing, what I believe are great books I haven’t managed to sell many.

    • Betty Horn says

      Thanks to all who responded to my remarks. I quit blogging for awhile, but I’m going to start again. I think what I have to say is too important to be left unsaid, even if I’m the only one who cares (but I don’t believe that I’m the only one who cares!) I am taking all your advice to heart and I am learning how to do the things you have said. I have had three strokes, so it’s not easy for me to remember how to attach to blogs and follow them, I know it sounds simple, but it is complicated to me. However, I’ll figure it out!
      Anyway, thanks again,
      Betty

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