When I was a little kid, my best friend in the whole world lived just up the street from me. There were maybe twenty houses between his and mine - maybe it was a quarter of a mile. In ten minutes or so, I could run up the street, bang on his door, and play for hours in his backyard.
I loved it so much that the older kids on my street would sometimes play a trick on me. They'd tell me that my best friend was looking for me and wanted to play. Like a dog going crazy for his favorite frisbee, my six-year-old self would lose it at the thought of playing with my best friend. At the word from the older kids, I'd sprint up the street and start playing.
I also got in trouble for it. A LOT.
One time, after disappearing again for a few hours without telling my parents where I was going, I got grounded for a week. That stuck with my little kid brain.
I finally began to understand that couldn't just do whatever I wanted.
I needed permission first.
My parents did it to protect me, and I'm truly happy that they did. It kept me safe as a kid. And let's be honest, they always let me go play with my friend, they just wanted to make sure that I asked first and that they knew where I was. It was good, sensible parenting.
As life goes on, though, I still finding myself asking for permission. And it's not always easy to get anymore.
I lived in Los Angeles and worked as writer for over a decade. I made some money, but rarely enough to live on without having other jobs. It's because I was always waiting for permission. I needed permission to go out for the dream gig. I needed permission to ask for big money. I needed permission to write the screenplay that I wanted.
The thing is... I'm an adult now. I'm in charge of my own life. And even though my parents are still around (and just as supportive and loving as they've ever been), in a very real way, I'm my own parent now.
I can give myself permission.
I can say "YES!" to myself.
As a writer, it's been an exhilarating gift, because throughout my career the things I've always taken the most pride in are the things that I chased after with my whole heart despite whether people thought they were a good idea or not.
I think we all should say "YES!" to ourselves.
One of the truly great things about being a writer today is that it's never been easier to take control of your career. With the advent of self-publishing, and with Amazon at our disposal, I can decide what I want to write, and I can decide when it's ready for the world. I can pursue the adventures and the stories and the characters that I want. I can do with them as I please. I don't have to wait for an agent or a publisher or an editor to give me permission.
That's not to say that traditional publishing isn't helpful - I hope to do more with it in the future. It comes with huge advantages, and it gives resources that a person working alone simply doesn't have.
But you have to get the permission from people who don't often like to give it.
So in the meantime, I won't wait for permission like I did for all of those years in Los Angeles. I was always waiting for a producer or an actor or a director or an agent to tell me "Yes" so that I could move forward.
I don't need that anymore. I can say "YES!" to myself.
It creates confidence. It builds up a belief in myself. It give me the power in my own life.
For any other writers who might be struggling with those early breakthroughs, or who might feel like their careers have hit a lull, or who are sick of following the conventional wisdom while ignoring the music in their head, I encourage you to say "YES!" to yourself. Put something out into the universe. Tell the story that you want to tell.
I'd give you my permission to do so... but you've already got all the permission you need.
We can all say "YES!" to ourselves.