Permission to Skip Permission

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” -Author unknown

If you don’t already know, I wrote a novel.

During the month of November, I met my goal of writing 50,000 words by the end of the month. Clink. I’ll cheers to that.

The process taught me a lot about motivation. The lessons I’ve learned can apply to your life goals, too. Ready? Here’s the biggest lesson so far:

Quit needing permission to do what you want to do. Just start doing it.

It’s a little funny that I spent so much time dreaming of becoming a published author. I told people writing books was my dream. I wrote it down on resumes. I talked about it with Mr. Right.

The funny part is that I never got around to doing the one thing that would make my dream come true – writing a book. That really baffles me now 50,000 words later. I know this first draft is just the beginning of what it means to write a whole novel, but at the same time, I’m amazed at how “easy” it was to do.

Yes. I said it. Writing a novel was easy.

As in, I just had to start writing it. I had to put words on a page. I had to wake up, open my laptop and clack away on the keys.

What is your dream?

I want you to take a minute and apply this mindset to your goals in life. For instance, I have a dear friend that dreams of being an interior designer someday. Her house is the most beautiful, thoughtfully designed home I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful homes!

The thing is, she thinks she needs a degree to cash in on her dream. I don’t.

She probably needs one for credibility within a design firm, sure. (Although I’d happily debate that.) My point is, the only permission she truly needs comes from within. She needs to say, okay, here’s what I know and here’s how I can help people.

Here is my gift to the world.

What’s stopping you?

I’m making this sound really easy again and well, that part is easy, just like writing a book. There are other details along the way, like character development, themes and grammar – those things can come later.

For now, give yourself permission to do something. It could be anything, a flyer, a website, a Facebook profile. Do something that brings you one step closer to your dream.

Write 2,500 words today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.

You don’t need permission for that, except from yourself.

How to give yourself permission

Start to build momentum toward your goals, one word at a time.

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits said the question is whether self doubt will stop you from doing amazing things.

Matt Chevy of Life Without Pants said he’s both overcome – and continues to struggle with – second guessing.

It’s the truth. We all have self doubt. But we can’t let it win.

Satya Colombo didn’t wait for permission to launch his freedom business summit. You don’t have to wait either.

Go out and do that thing you want to do, even if it’s just a tiny chunk of it. Start with 2,500 words. Today. Now. You heard me.

Learn. Gain experience. Repeat.

I never went to college, so I have little desire to spend a fortune on an English degree that would give me permission to write or edit or blog.

Maybe my lack of degree shows at times; I used to worry about that. Now I’ve decided not to care. I have too many other things to do first.

The world is a great teacher. So is Google. I know from experience, degree or not, you won’t be able to show me a great writer that doesn’t write. So start small.


Go through the basic motions of your dream. I know designers that couldn’t hold a candle to my friend’s talents, and they have a fancy degree. Her work speaks louder than that. She is probably surprised to know (love you!).

Unless you want to be a brain surgeon

Okay, let me clarify this message a little. I’m not advocating black market hospitals and underground plastic surgery. So spare me the comments about that.

Say it until you believe it.

If you don’t believe you’re a writer, why would anyone else? Everyone started at the same place you’re in right now. If you’re not sure how to be an entrepreneur, congratulations! That’s the first step.

Now start learning about how to do it. You can spend as little or as much money as you want along the way.

Just don’t let life pass you by at permission station.

That bus is always late.

Do you believe you are a … ?

Your turn. I want to hear about who you are. I’ll start:

I’m a writer.

Professional blogger.



Photo by Baptigrou

Check out Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, coming January 2016 from Delacorte Press/Random House. Visit her author site here.

{ 1 trackback }

Giving Yourself Permission to Write « Scribe
January 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm


1 Lynn January 3, 2011 at 12:12 pm

aw melissa thanks! thanks for believing in me…my path is changing this month, and although not to interior design, hopefully the new path will give me a new outlet for creativity. we’ll see i guess!

can’t wait to read your novel!! we’re so proud of you for completing it! enjoy your relaxing vacay!

2 Melissa January 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I do believe in you. Always have! You have an amazing eye for design.

Thanks for your support. I will bring back some sunshine, okay?

3 James Schipper January 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I’m 41 and barely graduated high school. I had decided at 16 that I wasn’t going to college, so I didn’t focus on school much. I have never regretted that decision.

I’m sure it could have opened a door or two, or perhaps even got me a job somewhere nice. But I’ve run several companies, am a writer*, and would have found ways to be happy regardless of my educational pedigree.

*-I still haven’t written a novel, and it’s a great accomplishment for you!

4 Melissa January 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Hi James,
My main message is that there are so many ways to learn without having to go to college. FREE ways.

Get going on that novel – you will thank you.
Thanks for stopping by!

5 Living the Balanced Life January 3, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Hi Melissa!
I never went to college either, and I recently gave up the most prestigious high-paying job I had due to a mental meltdowm. I am now giving myself permission to do something I love, to write and to help people. I started a blog back in May, and I am running an 8 week Journey to Balance on my blog. Back in August, I printed business cards that said blogger, freelance writer and internet marketer, even though the only thing I really was, was a blogger. Two months later, I got an offer to be a paid contributing author to a blog, and now I am a moderator for the same blog. I am going to reprint my cards again (going to a blog conference later this month) I am going to add life coach as well!
My youngest daughter wants to go into fashion styling and marketing, but we are not going to spend $100K for a fashion degree! She is working on a blog and a youtube channel and will be going to a local public college for a business/entrepreneurial degree.
Great post!
What is valuable to you?

6 Melissa January 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

Hi Bernice,
Your story is inspiring! Now is the time to question the norm, especially as education costs soar. Thanks for sharing your story here and I wish you luck on your future path.

7 Mollie January 3, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Hi Melissa,

Thanks for writing a post just for me! How did you know? 😉

Happy New Year!


8 Melissa January 4, 2011 at 10:22 am

Hi Mollie,
😉 I just know these things. Happy New Year to you, too!

9 Kristy Powell January 3, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Great post for me to read today on day 1 of my protest. So to answer your question, I believe that I am a protestor. I gave myself permission 6 months ago and today I took my first public step toward execution, and it feels GOOD.

10 Melissa January 4, 2011 at 10:24 am

Wow, Kristy! I just checked out your blog. I consider you very brave. I’m not sure I could do that. Well, especially in Wisconsin, where the weather fluctuates all the time. Wait, is that an excuse?

In any case, here’s a virtual high five. Enjoy your journey (and Happy Birthday!)

11 Kristy Powell January 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Thanks for checking it out. Brave, maybe. Fearful, yes, that too. It is cold here in CT, and so I’ve kept out a pair of tights, couple pair of pants for underneath a turtleneck and a couple sweaters. I walk everywhere so this would be impossible without dressing according to the season. But no need for an excuse, it’s not your path right now, so don’t worry about it. 😉

High five back!

12 deb January 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm

I love your blog. I’ve been a lurker thus far, but today, I felt moved to say “thanks.” There’s more I could say, but it’s late and I’m tired, so I gave myself permission to say “thanks” and have that be enough for today. 🙂 (thanks)

13 Melissa January 4, 2011 at 10:25 am

Hello, lurker! I’m so glad you stepped out of the shadows to leave a comment.

I also hope you had a restful sleep.


14 Clearly Composed January 5, 2011 at 10:40 am

I hereby give myself one permission slip to thrive and enjoy every minute of this wonderful new year. Thanks for reminding me I really don’t even need one!

15 Nailah January 5, 2011 at 11:05 pm

This is a great post! As I was reading it, I thought about all of the things I was holding back on because I was waiting for permission from someone or something. Thank you for the reminder that we already have what it takes to take our dreams forward!

I also love your new blog design – so clean and simple!

16 Melissa January 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Thank for the compliment, Nailah! I have a wonderful designer friend that keeps me clean and simple.

I’ve been thinking about forward movement a lot today. Looking forward to seeing what the year will bring! Hugs.

17 Marci January 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Giving ourselves permission instead of waiting on others to approve. When I don’t ask others what they think, I am more likely to do it. I ask others when I am unsure, yet it doesn’t help me get more sure. Only I can help myself get more sure or notice that I already am!
Inspiring post Melissa. Way to go on defying gravity and liberating yourself 🙂

18 Melissa January 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Hi Marci,
Thanks for your encouragement here. You’re right, it’s easy to need permission from others, which is different from seeking advice. Good point.

19 Mark Powers January 11, 2011 at 9:12 am

Just the read I needed this morning to kick myself back in gear and remember what I really want to be doing. Writing that novel, or, in my case, becoming a better musician, really is that easy sometimes. It’s simply a matter of starting and, as you said, doing it today, tomorrow and the day after that . . .

Thanks for the great post, Melissa!

20 Melissa January 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Thanks for your support here, Mark. Cool blog, too (and I love your mission … always had a thing for musicians.) Stay in touch!

21 Arielle January 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I really liked this article. It helped to solidify this great idea that had not occurred to me previously. I don’t need permission, and I don’t need self-doubt. I had just recently come to this conclusion. Thanks

22 Caroline January 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm

hi Melissa,
Article greatly appreciated — it’s part of what helped me give myself ‘permission’ to start my own site and share stories of people who defy the odds (I write about ‘Disability as opportunity’ over at Thanks again, and keep the motivation coming!

23 Megan March 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I’m an artist

I’m a paper crafter.

I’m a writer and journalist.

I’m a poet

I’m an entrepreneur

I’m a professional blogger.

I’m a list maker.

I’m a friend, daughter, sister and lover.

I’m all that I allow myself to be.

THANK YOU Melissa.

You are an inspiration to this soon to be FORMER corporate worker.

All the best,


24 Melissa March 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Love this list, Megan. Very inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing here.

Let me know when it’s official.

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