One of the best, easiest, yet highly effective and extremely liberating writing advice I have followed and integrated in my life is Peter Levitt’s recommendation to make a sign that reads, “PERMISSION GRANTED.”
I still remember how I felt when I first read those two words – it was as though shackles were removed from my mind and the doors to the chambers of my heart opened and a waft of fresh air pushed out constraints that had been deposited there through the years.
“There is room. Room for every part of life. Even room enough for me.” This realization came to Levitt one day and it led him to understand that each one of us, and every thing in this world possesses what he calls “an inherent permission to exist.”
Levitt explains, “No matter how many obstructions are thrown up in an attempt by some fearful part of ourselves to disrupt the natural flow of our expressive lives, no fear, no writer’s block, no personal history, no internal conflict or neurosis changes this fact of permission.”
Preparing the sign and displaying it in a prominent place soon allows the message to sink in. It offers a liberation that only we can give to ourselves, and is not only confined to the writing life – it encompasses all of life.
When I wanted to write and that small voice inside me said, “I don’t want to write!” I said, “Permission granted,” and I moved on with my day without anger towards myself for not writing daily as I always intend to. I was more relaxed. “Permission granted,” assuring myself that it was all right to relax and enjoy my day.
When a loved one died and I wanted to bawl, I gave myself permission to. When I wanted to dance in joy for no reason, I said, “Permission granted,” and I danced to a tune that only I could hear.
“What the imagination really wants is not as complicated or mysterious as you might think,” Levitt explains in his book, Fingerpainting on the Moon. He says that all the imagination wants us to do is accept its gifts and the permission that is inherent in these gifts, without judgment.
When we accept the gift that the imagination gives us, Levitt says our writing begins to change: “It becomes authentic, charged, and compelling. It possesses a definitive power that drives every image, noun, and verb.”
We all have had experiences through the various stages of our lives when we were told that we could not do this nor that. There were times when the prohibitions were necessary and were for our own good, but there were also numerous instances when the admonitions were given out of fear – and those are the ones that need to be removed from our psyche, those are the ones that are addressed when we say to ourselves, “Permission granted.”