When Bruce Chatwin first began to write he was not particularly good. He persevered. He churned out pieces on migrant workers and couturiers and the Great Wall of China. He showed each one to Francis Wyndham of the Sunday Times magazine. Wyndham “encouraged and criticised and edited.” [Bruce Chatwin; Anatomy of Restlessness].
However, the greatest gift that he passed on to the struggling Chatwin was “permission to continue.”
I love this phrase.
Almost everything we attempt is rubbish at first. Almost everything worth doing well is difficult. And that is why the permission to continue is such a brilliant concept. It helps dampen the fear of failing. It encourages you to just get started. You’ll never be brilliant unless you begin.
For example, if you want to be a photographer you don’t need to wait until -magically- you somehow receive a thunderbolt gift of talent and a fiendishly expensive Leica camera. You need to start today. To take photographs with whatever camera you can get your hands on. To take them as well as you can and not to be discouraged or ashamed that you are not an instant Bresson. You just need to begin. Take some photos. Start a Flickr account. (The first pic I ever uploaded on Flickr seems, retrospectively, far too boring to have bothered with. The crucial thing was that it got me going). Embrace, and learn from, people’s comments and feedback. Give yourself the permission to continue, and little by little you will improve.
Whatever you dream of doing there is only one thing to do: begin. Begin today. Take the first tiny step. And then persevere. Do not get discouraged.
Give yourself the permission to continue.