So you visit your local stationery store, you buy a gorgeous journal bound in leather, or a spiral notebook with Duck Dynasty on the cover. You buy a package of your favorite pens. You set your alarm clock — er, your phone — and get up half an hour early. You pour your coffee or steep your tea. You sit down at the kitchen table. That’s all you need.
But now what?
Freewriting, as I told the writing lab participants on Tuesday, is not free. You have to put that pen nib to the beautiful, clean pages and write non-stop for a set period of time. If you’re writing on your own, any amount of time is good — 10 or 15 minutes at a minimum. In lab, however, we write for 30 to 45 minutes, and that can be hard. After our first lab we shared our ideas for what-to-write, so here they are. Get started!
1) write a list of what you’d like to write
2) write a letter (you can write it to anyone that frees you; you can also write to the person who you imagine would not want you to write)
3) write, “This is dumb. I can’t think of anything to write. This is crazy. Why is Bethany making me write for 45 minutes? I could do ten, but 45??? Really? Bethany is crazy. Bethany is a fascist. This is …” (You get the idea. Just keep your pen moving.)
5) draw a tic-tac-toe like grid and then fill it with 9 trips (to anywhere, the 7-11 last night at 11:00, or to Paris when you were 12), or 9 events (your sister’s wedding, the day you got your dog, your child’s birth, your graduation…anything like that)
6. describe what’s in front of you or the room you’re sitting in
7. you can buy a book of prompts such as Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and begin working through those
The idea of drawing or writing complaints, by the way, even of listing, is to get your brain to drop into a different mode of being. You can think of this in left brain/right brain terms, or anything else that serves you. But if you stick with it for a designated period of time (I like 15 minutes, as you know) you will break through. If you return tomorrow, you’ll begin to form a habit.
Eventually, you’ll stop complaining and find yourself actually writing something of interest. Next, we’ll talk about what to do with that.
And if you don’t believe me, here is Natalie Goldberg herself with a few ideas: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Writing-Tips-How-to-Write-Better-Natalie-Goldberg