If you don’t know anything about Brene Brown, she’s a social work researcher who has spent the last decade or so studying shame and vulnerability. Before appearing with Oprah, she presented two TED talks (which I recommend you watch), about her own life experiences, her research, and striving to understand the connection between human connections, creativity/innovation, and vulnerability. At the bottom of creating anything new is the willingness to open ourselves up to failure, or to allow ourselves to be imperfect.

The video clip attached here is the basis of this week’s writing prompt.

When we write, and particularly when we write our life stories, we are opening ourselves up to being judged. We open ourselves up to saying things people won’t agree with or that people might take personally or find offensive. We open ourselves up, because in order to write anything that resembles truth, we have to be willing to put our whole hearts into the stories, we have to be willing to take off our armor and let our readers in to see our whole selves, even the bits we’d rather keep silent or keep hidden.

Brene Brown uses what she calls “permission slips” to carry around with her when she worries that she will stand in her own way. She gives herself permission to feel joy without being ashamed, and she gives herself permission to be silly and excited without worrying about judgement.

This week, I want you to think of some ways you can give yourself permission to write without restraint. Perhaps you could give yourself permission to visit intensely sad or incredibly embarrassing moments. Think of the ways that you feel you are holding yourself back–the issues you are avoiding–and then write down, on actual paper if you can, all of the things you give yourself permission to reveal through your writing. Perhaps write them on post-its around your computer screen, so next time you sit down to write, you will remember to enact all the new ways you are allowing yourself to feel and to write. Writing these permission slips at the front of your journal is also a great way to allow more authentic and unfiltered words onto your pages.

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