In order to learn something you must unlearn it first. I heard this today while listening to a podcast and it stuck.
I’ve thought a lot about writing lately — specifically how to become a better writer. Look at the most impressive writers and you’ll notice something peculiar. Their sentences don’t follow a set formula. Think back to grade school. We’re all taught how to structure a sentence. Specifically we’re taught that there’s a “right” and a “wrong” way, yet great writers break rules.
Ryan Holiday is a great writer. He’s persuasive, detailed, prolific, and admits to not giving a shit about grammar. Why? Because grammar isn’t the product. As he says in his article So You Want To Be A Writer? That’s Mistake #1 No one ever reads something and says, “well, I got absolutely nothing out of this and have no idea what any of this means but it sure is technically beautiful.”
The point isn’t to throw away technical ability, or spurn grammar altogether. Instead we need to realize that any growth comes at the cost of a past truth.
Personal growth is no different. To move from an “I can’t” to “I can” you have to forget the former.
To learn it seems, one must forget.