What if status didn’t matter and you were writing for the joy of it? That’s the freedom you were talking about.
Dear Jack,
Dr Katherine Phelps

My wife and I talked about this a lot over the four days of our long weekend. She knows me better than anybody. After listening to me talk it out for a solid half hour, she summed it all up brilliantly, saying (paraphrased) “You’re asking for permission to play. You relate to writing like it’s work, and you want it to be play. But you’re the one who makes the rules. Only you can give yourself permission to play.” Now “play” is something I’ve never been very good at. I grew up poor (like a lot of people, nothing special there), and started working for a paycheck and paying taxes at 14. So yes, my brain is long trained in seeing “serious” things as permissable, and “frivolous” things as forbidden. So there’s probably some important dimension here in which I can only give myself permission to write at all by expecting/demanding “Greatness.” Intellectually, I understand that giving myself permission to play with writing and just have fun with no lofty expectations would be immensly freeing, and would probably make me a better writer, and more capable of spontaneously achieving actual “greatness.” But emotionally, there’s this block. “Stop playing around and get to work!” So, how does one get past that?

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