Get the Should Out of My Writing!

Tightwad Gazette author Amy Dacyczyn tells the story of how her creativity went out the window when she was told exactly what to create and when to have it done.  We sabotage ourselves in this same way when we write for results, rather than for the joy of creating.

I’m attempting to plant a seed here, based on my somewhat murky vision of what the crop might be.  A plain white packet of tomato seeds will not be chosen by a novice gardener as quickly as will the one showcasing a vintage watercolor of sun-ripened tomatoes on the vine.

So, let us envision a lovely scene, all written to our own specifications, no “shoulds” allowed, and let’s call it ours.  It is not for the cruel editor’s cut, or the critique of the masses.  It is not even for the approval of those who love us and think whatever we do is simply grand.  It is “Not for Sale!”

It’s for the joy and the beauty of creation.

And tomorrow, we will see, as delighted and adventuresome children, what comes next.

As I listen to layered birdsong and the rustle and shimmying of aspen leaves, and think with satisfaction of my watered, sort-of-thriving herbs, I imagine myself in this setting as a small child.

I would bury my face in those exuberantly red geraniums.  Could they smell like they look –  bright and boisterous?  And all those vines hanging down around the sides of the basket – might I hide among them, and make myself a spot?  A place of my very own?  Would anyone care if I nibbled on those mint leaves, or some basil?

And suddenly there is a little girl in my heart, and she has a story.  I don’t need to know the end of the story, and an outline would be quite ridiculous.  I live in the here and now, and this story will tell itself in its own good time.  I don’t have to know if it’s long or short, serious or silly, and there’s no reason to define it, limit it, constrict it – should it.

This is my story and I’m stickin’ to it.  And I’m lovin’ it.

Writing, I mean.

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