A client once said to me,
“Writing this story feels like I’ve set out on the ocean with a lot of heart and grit and a general sense of direction, but I don’t want to spend months rowing hard to get to France only to learn that I’ve landed in Texas.”
At first, I wasn’t sure how to respond.
- Was she feeling insecure about her writing overall and needing me to reassure her that if she had planned for France, and worked hard to get there, she would definitely see the Eiffel Tower?
- Or was she expressing some subconscious uneasiness that she was actually on the wrong plotting track?
There was no right or wrong answer here. The first speaks to the general anxiety writers all feel from time to time. We’re sitting alone creating worlds out of thin air; how could we not feel insecure from time to time?
The second speaks to a more complicated issue: where does our writing come from? Whose ideas are these, if not mine? So why do they sometimes turn on me and take me to a place I never thought of–or wanted–to go?
When that happens to me, I’ve learned to listen to my silent self and, at least for a while, give it rein to move at will. Eventually, I either write myself out of that place–or I find that it actually is where I wanted to go. It means, of course, that I have to allow myself the hardest freedom of all–the freedom to fail.