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“I can’t write.”

You’ve said it a zillion times, but you’re not going to say it again because it’s a giant, steamy, and stinky pile of crap.

I know what your problem is.

You learned how to write. Then you learned you were doing it wrong.

Blame it on your teachers. Or the man. Or the system. Or the business world. Let’s agree to point the finger at some anonymous entity so you’ll need not feel guilty about it or suffer any consequences.

The truth is you got off to a great start. In your early grade school years, you were merely expected to use legible penmanship and transfer your thoughts—any thoughts—to the paper.

You wrote with abandon. It was fun. It was freeing. But not for long.

Your spirit got splintered and your passion shattered as you progressed through the grades. Out came the red pens. Your papers came back to you with corrections and suggestions for cleaning up your prose.

Like science and math, you learned writing has rules. Lots of rules. Rules for where, when, and how to apply the rules. The more rules you learned, the less writing became an exercise in self-expression.

The red pens started starring in your nightmares like creepy characters from “Alice in Wonderland.” Writing was no longer a sandbox filled with fun toys. It became more like quicksand filled with expectations, pressure, and fear.

Again, it’s really no one’s fault. Everyone who contributed to your writing paranoia was simply doing their job.

You were taught sentence structure. Grammar. You learned how to write reports, then essays, poems, and stories. In high school you learned how to write for college. In college you learned how to write for business.

Each progressive step involved mastering more meaningful forms of writing. And now, given you understand exactly how to write a resume, sales letter, proposal, website, press release, white paper, and so on, you are a confident professional writer.

Right? Wrong?

Though it surely sucks, you learned how to conform to the norm.

You’re a language lemming.

Your involuntary responses to writing by the rules extinguish your impulses in an instant. Your willingness to follow a formula produces the same outcome every time: dreadful mediocrity.

Your pen’s perfectly powerless. You’re a cripple at the keyboard. The wild, wonderful, ambitious and creative ideas that spring from your mind never get anywhere near your fingertips.

You have so much to unlearn.