Free Writing

Today I cleaned out some closets (BLEH!). I know, I know…but one of the life lessons I try and focus on while doing everyday chores is treat the action as if it is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. Do the very best I can do and appreciate the experience IN THAT MOMENT, no matter how mundane it is.

As I was dragging out boxes to rummage through I found a box of books. HA ZAH!!! MY books! This was THE box of books – containing all of my favorite books – the ones that survived the last purging of things not necessary in my quest for simplifying my life. My essential books.

One of them is a book called “The Tao of Writing”, by Ralph Wahlstrom. I leafed through it, recalling the first time I read it and some of the more distinct “Ah HA” moments when ideas came together. This was probably the first book I found on writing that actually had some realistic ideas I hadn’t considered when looking for inspiration. It helped me find a way back to putting a pen on paper and letting the words flow.

In one of the chapters, the author correlates Free Writing with magic. It likens free writing to the “lesson of the river. It flows around impediments effortlessly…” Further in, it goes on to explain:

Here is how free writing works. You sit, stand, or lie in a comfortable posisition and open a notepad, word processing screen, napkin, or paper bag. You begin to write. It is important that you simply keep writing, moving the pen or typing without concern from content or correctness-sentence structure, grammar, and spelling. The only rule is that you must keep the words flowing. You say that you can’t think of anything to write? Begin by writing “I can’t think of anything to write because…” and, miraculously, the words will begin to flow.

…Peter Elbow contrasts ordinary writing with free writing this way: Writing normally ‘feels like trying to steer, to hold things together, to juggle balls. When I free write, I let go, stop steering, drop the balls and allow things to come to me’ (Belanoff et al., 207)…’Free writing is an invitation to stop writing and instead to be written’ (209).

Keeping the place marked in the book was my black-ink scrawled notebook paper – my first attempt at trying it! I was in a parking lot waiting on my son, an hour to kill while he finished his lesson. I remember reading through the chapter and thinking, “how hard could it be?” There’s an ink blot on the first line where I sat and drew a blank initially. Shaking my head to literally shake clear my mind like an Etch-a-Sketch, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and …just started to write. Whatever crossed my mind. And it really was like magic!

“To begin at the beginning” how simple! How difficult! When I start the flow and tap into where my thoughts go, there always seems to be rocks and limbs that redirect, split, and go off to where I don’t know! The question is which thought do I follow? 🙂

The phone rings, startling me from my thoughts and I engage in a conversation…now I’ve left that path, the phone IS my rock in the flow of my thoughts. I see a woman dressed well walk to her car and leave. My thoughts go there – she looks really nice. I wonder if she’s been working of if she’s heading off to somewhere? All the cars in the parking lot become questions and wonderings: the large woman in her Caddy leaving – she looks so sad! Maybe she’s heading home to a situation she hates or leaving a job she despises. The large van with all the magnets all over it – who is the family that it belongs to? Are they happy? They sure seem busy!

I love the way the sky is a never-ending visual masterpiece! Like right now? The rain has passed and washed the air clean, leaving a crispness to it. And with the low clouds residually lagging, the sun above them follows its routine – preparing to pass over my horizon and into someone else’s world…Today the colors reflected on the crests of the clouds are a warm, golden pink, creating a distinct contrast across the slate gray clouds that are lumbering, slowly dragging their way along. Do they want to linger? They seem to  begrudgingly pass overhead, sulking like a petulant child! In the gaps between them I can see the white clouds hanging higher above them, unburdened and almost virginal – proudly standing in the full reflection of the now setting sun with shades of blue peeking out in between them. Each dusk a new and unique portrait of a cooperative dance that keeps me endlessly entertained and moved, ever looking forward to the next movement! Sunrise and night, dawn and day, dusk and sunrise the intermissions…




3 Responses

  1. that’s brilliant. how your mind went, free, where it went, the descriptions beautifully visual!

    Thanx Shadow! Your writing often motivates me to take time to free flow write – it seems to just flow from you as you experience life without the distractions my mind tends to chase down!

  2. Nice. I had to bookmark this so I can come back and read it when I have time to think about it, too.

    Thanks for stopping in and telling me that; I read you often and your writing – the points mulled over and the honesty spilled out on the page – are another source of inspiration for me. 🙂

  3. Wow!

    I have tried to do this before, and it has just never . . . quite made it.

    The first attempts netted me a big fat ink blot of nothing! I’d gotten out of the habit since that time, so this was a *reminder – I haven’t gotten back to it, but it takes ALOT for me to “let go” and just write! Maybe its like riding a bike! We shall see…

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