This week, I’m telling the story of my Playing Big journey. If you didn’t catch it earlier, you can read Part 1 here.
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Thanksgiving 2008, I wrote my very first blog post. It was written on a free template site I’d set up in a few minutes. It was a blog that had no readers, no subscribers.
What did I think I was doing at that time?
I knew I had always loved to write.
I knew that in my heart of hearts, if I really got honest about it, I did want to write about personal growth, psychology, spirituality – even as the Ivy League grad and Stanford MBA voice in me thought that sounded at best unconventional and at worst, really flakey and possibly embarrassing.
I also knew that even if I could get past those worries, I’d be rather stuck, because I’d lost my writing muscles.
In the third grade, my best friend Judy and I decided we’d write a poetry book. We got together week after week and wrote poems about lemonade, jump rope, our parents, our pets. We weren’t worried about whether the poems were good or not. That had nothing to do with it.
That was the way writing began for me – imaginative, playful, giddy even. But over the years in school, I learned that there was such a thing as a good writer, or a less good writer. I got A’s on papers. People told me I was a great writer. I won some writing awards.
But then other times things didn’t go that well. Sometimes I entered a writing contest and didn’t make it past the first round. Sometimes a particular teacher didn’t like my writing and gave me a grade that stung. I didn’t have any grown ups in my life who really knew how to explain that part to me.
So I wondered, “Was I okay at this or not? Was I ‘good’? Was what I had to say something people liked, or not?”
You can guess what happened next. Once those questions take center stage, it’s the end of any creative pursuit.
I went off to college where writing workshops involved not only the teacher but all the other students marking up your work with red pen and telling you what they did and didn’t think worked about it – and well – my fragile, little artist self didn’t have the thick skin for it. She went packing.
I lost writing. I took what I call “a seven year sabbatical from writing, sponsored by my inner critic.”
But seven years into it, the frozen feeling started to get really painful. There was that inner voice that began saying to me, “Write, write.”
I said back, “No, I’m taking a coaching training program right now, and I have a full time job. I’m going to focus on those things.”
And it said, quite clearly, “Write, just write.”
I finally listened. I sat down to write.
The words didn’t come.
The white, blank Word document was just very white, and very blank.
I would write a few lines and reread them. I always hated them. They were clunky, stilted.
I struggled like that for weeks, sitting down at the laptop and writing in a slow, plodding, utterly flow-less way. Then I’d read what I’d just written and cringe.
I would imagine other people reading it – the novelist friend or my husband or my old writing seminar professors. I’d hear them saying it was cheesy. I’d hear them saying, “Um, yeah, nice try, dear.”
But one day, I had an entirely new thought. It sounded like this,
“Tara, if you are going to write, you are going to have to write for yourself. You are going to have to set aside this whole thing about what anyone else thinks.
You might even have to set aside what you think about your writing.
You are going to have to write not to produce something ‘good,’ but because you are a woman who loves writing. That’s your reason to write, because it’s you, honey. This is for you.”
That day, I could write, and the words came easier. Topics to write about came easier. That day, I wrote for me. And to this day, that is why I write. Because life gave other people a love for running or singing or working with numbers, and it planted in me a love for this.
Sometimes, playing big is simply taking back who we are and what we love.
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I would love to support you in playing big, also. My Playing Big course is now open for registration! I hope you’ll join us for this incredible experience that can help you start playing bigger in just the ways you want to. Come learn more about it here.