Sitting down and writing every day, being creative, is not about discipline it’s about self-forgiveness.
Elizabeth Gilbert said this, or something like it, in her podcast episode with Brene Brown. It was an important statement, but not the crux of the conversation. A little chocolate nugget sandwiched in to the roast beef and red potatoes.
It’s about self-forgiveness.
As soon as I told this to my writer friends they nodded so hard their heads hurt. YES they said.
My friend texted me later to tell me during her daily free write she listed all the ways she forgave herself.
“I didn’t have time for that,” she said. “Just for the writing things.”
It’s hard to write every day. I don’t say this in a boohoo poor me way, just in the way that it’s hard to exercise every day. It takes energy and work. It’s always easier to eat a sleeve of Nutter Butters and watch Felicity.
I punish myself when I don’t do it. I get upset that I’m simply not disciplined enough, not better. If I were better I would find the time to do it every single day. If it was really that important to me, I would be vigilant, dedicated, an army general writer person with 10 more books to my name.
I am a loser.
I am failing.
Does it all come back to that? Being kind to your body, eating healthier or exercising more comes down to self-forgiveness. I’ve berated myself for failing at exercise or diet plans, felt like a fraud and a lazy loser, told myself if I just had the discipline then I wouldn’t be in this predicament.
It never worked.
What does work? Radical self-love.
Forgiveness for the days I don’t walk more than a few steps. Forgiveness for the times I should have had a vegetable but ate a stale bag of pita chips instead.
I’m never getting myself to yoga if I don’t forgive myself for all the times I didn’t go to yoga.
Something like that.
And so today as I sit in my faux-silk nightgown and drink my flat Diet Coke and celebrate the first day I’ve been able to really write in so, so long, I say to myself.
I forgive you.
I forgive you for the days you didn’t have time to write. I forgive you for the days that you did but you chose Nutter Butters and Felicity. I forgive you for the crappy stuff you wrote last time and for the crappy stuff you will write today. I forgive you for not being as good as you want to be. I forgive you for your unrealistic expectations about how good your writing should be.
I forgive you for the shoulds.
I forgive you for it all.
I forgive you.
Now go write already.