To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free-write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.
And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.
And thus begins my involvement in Writing 101. The only thing I did do was go through a quick spell-check (because no one needs to suffer through my creative-spelling more than necessary). Otherwise, unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness Allison.
I am a sucker for taking on more than I should. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but really I find that the more I have on my plate the more productive I am. I think some of it has to do with the idea that the more I have to do the more I am aware of just how important my time is.
There are limits to this of course. I have, more than once in my life, hit points where my body begins to rebel. It starts to yell at me, with subtle signs at first, and then more and more insistent, telling me it is time to step back, to take a break, to give myself a rest. In the past five or so years I’ve begun to learn these signs, and in the past three or so, I’ve learned to actually start to listen to them.
But those signs haven’t started up yet, so it is perfectly reasonable for me to pile more on my plate, right? And that is what I’m doing, sort of, but signing up for Writing 101, through the Daily Post. The plan, at least, my hope, is to use the prompts we’re given, the task of trying to write daily, to really get myself in the daily writing practice — and perhaps be able to piggy-back a daily editing practice onto that.
Because I have ridiculous goals that I want to meet, things I would like to have all lined up by the end of the summer so that this blog, and my writing in general, don’t fall to the wayside come the fall — when I begin to try balancing the half-time school, full-time work schedule.
So much of what I write for Writing 101 wont end up posted on the blog on the day of the assignment. Some of it may never appear, and some of it may take months to show up, but I am going to try to hold myself to actually doing the work. Each and every day.
And the first assignment, the free-write, certainly brought me back for a moment. Twenty minutes of stream of consciousness…. I know that I have a more directed stream-of -consciousness here, because… well… those who have actually been witness to my written (or, for a few rare folks out there, verbal) stream-of-conscience it can be quite.. uhm.. scattered, hard to follow, and unusual. I jump from topic to topic when I’m trying to be coherent, when I let that inner filter go — well, it can get confusing.
But it makes me think about the ways in which I have used the free-write exercise in my writing-life. I remember when I first encountered it, this idea that if you just keep writing, even if it is simply “lah lah lah”, it can help to stimulate actual coherent ideas. I remember sitting in that classroom in High School, Teeter (because most of my High School teachers were either referred to by their first name, or their last name, with very few being given “Mrs,” “Mr,” or “Ms,” titles) telling us to just write. Every single day in the Creative Writing elective, we started with free-write. Sometimes in silence, sometimes with music, sometimes with a certain visual object, or a sentence or concept that could serve as a launching point. But, ultimately, we just wrote.
I still have some of those early pages… one where the pencil I was writing with actually ripped through the paper as “Trepek” from the Nutcracker played. I had an injured ankle, and I had once danced to that song, and it seemed that year, in particular, I heard it at every turn and, in the magical way that music can pull up memories, every time it played I found myself feeling physical pain in the healed ankle.
Other pages were less dramatic. Rambles, plain and simple, as I drifted from thought to thought, trying to find a place to land. Because I don’t like being adrift, not really. I like having a tether, something to hold me to a place, to keep me grounded while my thoughts may run wild. And so I would grasp, in those free-writes, for something to hold me in place. An idea, a phrase, and image. Anything that I could turn around and weave into a more complete story, or plug into a pre-existing story.
I think those may well have led me to years of free-roaming story-writing. Starts without direction. Beautiful moments with no cohesion. And there is certainly a place for that. I still dream of going back to those stories, trying to pull from them the shreds of actual good product and turn it into something more. Because I know I am still honing my craft, but it is certainly more polished than it was half-a-lifetime ago. Which does not mean that there is not something of value in those early works, simply that the casing it is in might be more primitive and need some more care and attention.
There is certainly something freeing about letting the fingers fly across the keys (or the pen across the paper). Especially when you are given permission to not have to make great sense with those
words. When it is perfectly acceptable to type non-sense, it can open up the brain to more ideas. That has been my experience at least. I find that the more I type, the more the ideas seem to come. It comes as a draft, certainly. The draftiest drafts possible. But it is writing, and if, within that work there is even a shred of something salvageable, or a moment of realization, then it is worth it. More than once a character has found their way into my free-writes, elaborating on something, or having the freedom to tell a story unrelated to the story I am writing about them. Something that gives me more insight into the character though, and therefore helps me to write the story they have to tell.
In those moments there are no wasted words. Everything matters, everything is important, and everything is worth the time and energy that went into it.