There’s a practice I was introduced to when I was doing my A Levels which is the ability to write freely, wiithout limits, with few prompts, to the background of silence or soft music (the kind that you tend to hear in New Age shops that smell of incense and ever-so-thinly-masked-body odour).
I can categorically say that I am no good at this sort of writing. I likes my punctuation, correct grammar (well, mostly) and, apart from a few glitches from writing too fast (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it) I likes my superb spelling (Top in my class in Spelling since ’96, bitches). And, above all, I believe in writing purposefully, with a goal to reach and a target met.
Free-writing doesn’t lend itself to nice, safe structures like those mentioned above, however. The idea is that there’s really no need to conform to those restraints if you don’t feel like you should. You write exactly what’s on your mind, however it comes out, free of judgement, censorship and editing.
It’s been a few years since I’ve tried it. But, I tried it again this morning. There were a bajillion things going on in my head at once earlier. No particular reason. There just was. And so, for lack of anything better to do (other than burst into tears), I sat down and I wrote.
I ended up having a little bit of a conversation with myself on paper.
Now don’t get me wrong, there was still quite a lot of punctuation. The spelling – as far as I can recall – was immaculate. But before I realised it, I had covered two sides of lined A4 without looking up. And when I did look up, I felt a lot calmer. Somewhere in the furious scribblings, I had managed to soothe my frantic mind, answer a few questions and, more importantly, carve out enough space in my crazed little head for a bit of focus.
Subsequently, I managed to create and interpret two graphs, read the abstracts of four papers and write 500-odd decent words of my dissertation. And all before lunch. I was quite pleased.
I’ve come to the conclusion, therefore, that sometimes it’s okay to hit the pause button on things to do something as mundane as blanking out for a bit and writing. For me, that little – I think I was only doing it for like 15mins – blurt out onto paper was just enough to allow some breathing and thought. I’m a bit (read: a lot) of a stresshead at times. I think that once I’ve had that moment to just get it out of my head and onto something else, that 15mins of time not doing something important is enough to get me in the right frame of mind to do something important, moments after.
Very interesting. Yes.