Letting go

We aren’t singing the song.

A student back in my university days told a professor how he was struggling with a project. He’d been working on it for a long time, and it wasn’t coming together. After listening patiently, the professor said,

Let it go. If it’s not coming together, there’s got to be a reason.

The student’s struggle happens to me all the time.

I have blog posts that I’ve worked on and reworked but never published because there is something wrong with them.

Or stories that will never see the light of day. I can get the basic concept down, a general structure, but I hit a brick wall in writing. Not because I can’t write it—but because the story doesn’t work.

And I think that’s it—there’s something, deep down and early on, that is fundamentally flawed. And forcing it makes it worse. I wholeheartedly believe that even if I got the legs under it and pushed it across the finish line, it wouldn’t be worth it.

There is the possibility that the flaw isn’t the project but the creator. Something within us is getting in the way.

That sucks, but it also gives us an out because it suggests that maybe you aren’t the person for this project, but by putting fresh eyes on it—new ideas, fresh voices, something outside of ourselves—we can make it happen.

All of this reminds me of a story from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, in which she believes that a creative project is a magic gift given to us and if we don’t do something with it soon enough, it will move on to the next person who will.

And I love this idea. Not because I’m a big believer in magic, but because it suggests we don’t have to hold tight to our creative ideas. Perhaps the project is fantastic, but for someone else. And instead of holding on tight to it, we need to let it go for the person who is ready and able to do it.

So, in the end, maybe that professor was right. Let it go, share it, and release it from your creative birdcage so that the story can find a home with someone who can make it real.