Free writing will change your life…or maybe not.
“You want me to just sit and write? Alright…”
This was my inward response during a writing course I attended last year when asked to sit and write for ten minutes.
Based on this response, you might assume I’m not much of a writer. Hopefully the 117,000 word romantic suspense novel called Radiant, I’ve just published here, proves otherwise – but it did raise some interesting questions, like “should I be doing regular writing exercises?”
Now, like many of you, I have a LIFE. Family, work, and other regular commitments monopolise our time, making it hard enough to find time to write, let alone adding writing exercises to that list. Besides, it kind of sounds like homework doesn’t it? Groan.
Freedom v. obligation – find out what works for you and your writing
So, back to the course. I wrote for ten minutes. It was OK. It wasn’t life changing and then I got back to my regular routine of you know, writing my book! Kind of more important if you ask me…
Then a funny thing happened. As I started interacting with other writers during my self-publishing journey, I began reading and following blogs and via this, have been exposed to different writing styles and approaches.
Now, my approach (just in case you are wondering) is pretty straightforward. I’m goal orientated (yes, I’m a plotter). I’m writing a book. So when I sit down to write, I write the book. Makes sense, or at least I think it does.
“But what happens when you get writer’s block?” you ask.
Usually, I do other things. I listen to music, write some music, watch a movie, go for a walk and let the creative juices flow in other ways while I’m waiting for my subconscious to figure it all out. And then I get back to writing – whether I like it or not.
Give yourself permission to let the words flow
Recently, I came across the blog of another indie author, Victoria Sawyer, and her book, Angst, which I’m reading right now – although it should be known it’s not for the faint hearted! Check it out, it’s a refreshing approach to YA. It’s real and it’s raw and it’s honest.
Victoria blogs regularly about life, writing and general angsty stuff and I became inspired by her posting some of her poetry and other random writing on her blog from time to time.
So much so, that when I actually got a quiet half hour last weekend and was sitting with my cup of Earl Grey, basking in the late afternoon autumn sun (bliss) – words started to hit me, as it seemed, from nowhere.
Instead of playing around with them in my mind as I usually do and then relinquishing them, I went inside, grabbed a pen and paper (also unusual, I’m more of a laptop and keys type of girl) and went and sat back down and just wrote.
I wrote a poem as it turned out. Well, at least I think it’s a poem – it’s kind of just a jumble of words scrawled onto paper that ebb and flow.
And then it occurred to me: I had just completed a free writing exercise!!!
It also reminded me of something. Sometimes, it’s good just to give yourself permission to let the words flow. It might be for ten minutes, half an hour or an hour. It might be every day (if you have time or your a journal type of person) or it might be once a month.
It doesn’t matter. Just let the words flow.
Free writing can help you rediscover your love of writing
I also realised that this was how my love of writing had evolved in the first place. As a child and teenager, I spent hours writing whatever I wanted (clearly I had more time on my hands!) But it was just for me. Not for anyone else. To express myself.
Somehow in the transition to adulthood, I’d left that behind and it’s nice to rediscover or remind ourselves of that love of writing every now and then. Here’s some of the benefits free writing can bring:
- it’s therapeutic to write without a goal in mind
- sometimes it’s just nice to write because you are a writer
- other times it’s just nice to write for you and not for an audience
- you’re writing! Which means you’re practicing your craft
- by not focusing on the issues at hand in your current writing project, it can help you to work through them – yeah, I know, try and figure that one out!
- it’s fulfilling and enjoyable and reminds you why started this painful writing gig in the first place.
Lastly, let’s just not call it a ‘writing exercise’ alright? Because that just takes all the fun out of it!
Do you ‘free write’ regularly? What techniques or approach do you find works best for you?
Although I wrote it for me, I thought I’d share it with you to give you an idea of what writing freely can bring:
Feel your soul release
Picked up and carried by the wind
Let yourself soar to new heights
The world looks different from up here
Tree tops wave to me
Glittered gold by the sun’s rays
My soul basks in the radiant heat
Warmed to the very core
The last days of summer are gone
But still the sun holds on
Refusing to admit defeat
I beg you, to stand still
Don’t miss this day
This glorious day
In its honesty
There is truth
The answers that your soul long seeks
Whisper fleetingly in the quiet breeze
They brush past your shoulders
You only need to stop, listen and breathe
It’s been there all along
This gentle peace
This feeling complete
It’s been there all along
Neither within nor without
Your scattered mind
Your relentless life
They do not serve you well
This calm, this comfort
hangs right before you
In the air you breathe
The daylight offers a silent reprieve
And still you refuse to believe
I said, stop!
Just stand still
The sun is soon to set
But still it hangs there
An ageless promise
Of past, future and present
Cast your will to the wind
Open yourself and let it in
This slow descent
This quiet release
For you are part of the whole
Neither small nor powerful
You just are
Forever is the blink of an eye
Gone before it begins
I beg you
Please, please stand still
Soon it will be gone
Catch this moment while you can
Fresh, raw, alive
For summer is gone
And autumn sings her sweet song
Her crisp, playful breeze taunting the sun
Soon her tune will turn cold
Her smile lost to regret
Did you stop? she will ask
Did you stand still?
Catch the moment
A long, cold winter awaits
Treasure this moment
Hold it fast
Make it last
Make it last