The Art of Letting Go

Happy Friday everyone! If you have a moment, visit me at my blog where I discuss the 16th president – There May Be Blood, Mr. President.

These past few weeks I’ve been on a scary journey – teaching my youngest son to drive.

Yes, my baby, the Eagle Scout has a learner’s permit. As a parent, there are many fears (some real – kidnapping, some improbable – alien kidnapping) that keep you awake at night. Your child getting their license is probably at the top of the list. Especially the realization that your child will be driving a car.

With you in it.

Now, I went through this process with my older son last summer. He was reluctant to learn and by nature is very cautious. And no big surprise, he drives that way (and I am not complaining!). I’m probably one the few parents who’s told their teen driver, “speed up, you’re driving too slow.”

Not so with younger son. During our first few lessons, in our vast local middle school parking lot, he eagerly mastered steering, braking, and acceleration. I’m not suggesting his attitude is cavalier. He does understand that he’s responsible for wielding the giant hulk of metal and to quote Stan Lee – with great power, comes great responsibility.

He’s not alone in his journey. I’ve had to learn how to let him go – to trust him and the universe (okay – honestly, I trust him more than the universe).

It sure hasn’t been easy. These are my babies!

I also noticed something else. About a week into younger son’s driving lessons I made the comment to him,”Funny, same time last year, when I was teaching Older Brother, I was writing The Undead Space Initiative.” I managed to complete that book in about 6 weeks. The bulk of the writing took place while I was giving driving lessons.

And coincidentally, the same week I started teaching younger son to drive, my word count on my latest WIP skyrocketed to almost 3,000 words a day.

What is up with that?

Upon reflection, I believe I was holding back. I wasn’t “letting go” on the page. Too much caution, too much thinking, dare I say – doubt. I had myself in a mental stranglehold. I had been writing, but it was slow, laborious, and at times, painful (you know, staring at a blank screen taking hours to get down a few hundred words).

For younger son, he’s made mistakes (none so far resulting in damage). I’m fine with that. In fact, I want him to mess up (safely, of course) because nothing teaches better lessons than mistakes!

So here is what I’ve taken away from this experience. If you find that you’re in a rut or just sluggish, give yourself permission to let go. Write crap if you have to, but don’t hold yourself back. Even if you end up chucking it all later, it’s better to try and fail, than never try at all.

And if next year rolls around and I find myself in a slump – who’s got a teenager in need of driving lessons?

What are your tips for “letting go”? And what have you been hanging onto for far too long?

Dad and younger son
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32 thoughts on “The Art of Letting Go”

  1. Casey, is that a photo of your sons? What a great photo. Two tall fellows by the water and rocks. Good photograph too, good design. When we talk about design let’s use the photo. My grandkids are getting their driving licenses. It’s pretty exciting to watch them grow, a few are even men already. All these life changing stages. Letting go??? Do you mean of the kids, or your work? Good post, thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Gail. Actually it’s a photo of my hubby and younger son at Stonington Point. My older son is taller than both of them! I live in a house of giants.

      And yes, the post is about both things- learning how to let go as a mother (and let your child move to the next logical stage of their life) and to let go as a writer (don’t hold back, let’re rip!).

  2. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to let go enough to let my son drive a car…you should see what he does with the grocery cart!

    But I definitely know what you mean about letting go, and having a creative surge. It doesn’t seem to matter what area of life you “let go” in; for me, suddenly things start to flow in all areas.

  3. Great blog. It must be crazily anxiety provoking, teaching a child to drive. Mine is only two and I already dread the day. You make great points about letting go now. Our children are in a very different age group, and yet I too have had to learn how to let go, when my toddler flails about in frustration. zanni

    1. Hi Zanni! Welcome!

      I remember the toddler days for both my sons. Neither of them was content to stay in one place for long. As far as the driving, I won’t be doing it all alone. At some point, he will be taking driver’s ed classes and they will take him to the scary places like the highway before I do. I shudder just thinking about it.

  4. Sound advice about the kids and about the writing, Casey. I’m going to ponder the questions, “what’s holding me back?” and “What am I not willing to let go?” I think you may be on to something. Thanks!

  5. My brain often holds me back. I tend to overanalyze everything from sentence structure to flow, to how this sentence fits in with the plot. The best advice for those of us trying to let go remains in checking our brain at the door and allowing creativity to take precedence.

  6. I’ve got a couple of years before I have to worry about my kid being on the road. When that time comes, I will practice letting go … by letting my husband go and give the driving lessons! (Since he never reads this blog I will admit that he is a better driver than I am 🙂 ) Great analogy, Casey, and advice I’m doing my best to heed right now.

    1. Good idea, Susannah! I wish I could leave all the driving instruction just to my husband, but with two at the same time, it’s just not a viable option. 🙂

    2. And don’t forget about considering Driver’s Ed classes. It can take some of the pressure off everyone to have a neutral party involved.The town holds them and they have the best price. At the minimum, it’ll get you a discount on car insurance. Also, in our state, parents are required to have a two hour class on teen driving laws. I’m making Hubby go this time, since I sat through it for Older son.

      1. In the state of Ohio, they are required to take Drivers’ Ed classes, plus 8 hours of in-car driving with the instructor. On top of that, mom/dad/guardian must drive with them for 50 hours in the car, and 8 of those hours must be at night. It’s a lot, but I’m hoping it will make them safer drivers.

      2. We have similar laws in CT. And we have special rules for 16-17 year olds. Like no having friends in the car until a year (I think) after they get their license. And after 6 months with license, then family members. So many rules they should just make the driving age 18.

  7. Once again, you are my Sister-from-another-Mister! We are currently teaching our twin boys how to drive, and it can be a nerve-wracking experience!

    Did I read that correctly? Did you actually write WHILE you were in the car with your older son? I never thought of that! But I’m not sure I could do it….

    I have recently begun working again on an older story that needs revision, and I keep getting stuck. This post is really helpful, Casey, as I’m learning to just “write crap” if it means I am still writing and working it out. 🙂

    Sending angels to you and your son for the driving lessons and asking them to surround us as well. 🙂

    1. WOW – I have twin boys and I’m dreading teaching them to drive. I think about the likely desire for alcoholic beverages (consumed by me) after taking one out to drive, but needing to be sober to take the other. Shudder! Thankfully they are still in preschool so I have a while before I get there…

      1. It will go by so fast! I look at my boys and think, geez, aren’t you still in preschool?! 🙂 And believe me–wine is my friend!

    2. No! LOL! I don’t write and drive. I know this sounds weird, but lately I measure time by which book I was working on at the time. So in 2011, it was The Undead Space Initiative. Thanks for the angels. I truly do appreciate them.

      And – twin boys! Egads! I know you are a great teacher Rose. They are in good hands.

  8. I was the one who taught my son to drive as well. I have to say that when he went to take his driving test, the guy at the DMV said he was a very good driver and asked him who taught him to drive. You think letting go at 16 is hard, wait till one of them gets married! As for writing … generally I let me fingers and mind wander and go back and “slash and trash” later. I call it the art of being a true panster, but some of my best story twists happen that way. And you know, I am your twisted sista.

  9. Great photo. My mother used to say, “Your children are yours for such a short time, love them , teach them and let them fly.” And she did.
    With my books (no children) I follow her advice.

  10. We are sort of thinking alike today, huh? Letting go of self-doubt and fear. Hey, what’s the big deal? Not everyone likes us. The worst thing someone can say is… I didn’t like your book. It’s all good.

  11. Great post!

    I can’t imagine how hard it must be to let go enough to teach the kids to drive. I’m having a tough enough time dealing with the baby going to Kindergarten! It’s a relief, too, because we won’t be paying for daycare, but it’s shockingly hard. I have little kids, right? Oh, wait. Maybe not so little anymore. :S

    1. Hang on Meggan because they will be gradutating before you know it. People used to always say that to me and I knew in my head that it was true, but that still didn’t make any less bittersweet!

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