Sunday, December 06, 2009

Letting go

The process of writing a first draft (and even later drafts) involves a continual struggle to let go, to stop trying to control the process, to step out of the way and let the words flow.

Letting go–the ability to surrender to the process–is, ultimately, what every writer hopes to do. It’s why we spend our lives keeping journals and doing writing exercises and reading interviews with other writers and studying books and stories.

We do all this in the hope of learning how to let go, to reach that place where we can let the words flow without judgment or criticism or praise, just let the words be on the page as they need to be.

Letting go means letting the words make their appearance in whatever order or shape they need to arrive on the page... in that moment.

Letting go means letting the words travel that mysterious route flowing from your heart through your hand to the page.

It means knowing that you can rearrange the words and replace them and reshape them after they’ve made their appearance on the page.

It means letting the words come so you will have something to work with on the page (which will involve a different kind of engagement with the flow of words in later drafts).

How do you open the door to your heart in each stage of a work-in-progress? How do you learn to let go?

It’s as easy (and hard) as slipping into the water, except you’re sitting at your desk or at a table in a cafĂ©, your pen poised, ready to begin writing.

Listen to your breath and relax.

Open to the possibility of dreams and hope.

Let go of expectations--of judgment and praise--and give yourself permission to be curious.

Ask questions.

Notice what’s happening inside yourself, as well as all around you.

And then ask more questions.

Most of all, lighten up.

Let yourself make mistakes, fall down, trip over your own feet, and laugh about it.

Let your pen take you where you need to go.

For more on letting go, visit:

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Yeah, letting go of my perfectionistic tendencies is one of my biggest writing struggles. But I think there's a balance. For me, too much free rein ends up in a unstructured collection of words without a coherent plot.