Let It Out the Write Way
Episode #9 of the course Creative mindfulness: Ten ways to chill out and enjoy creativity by K.C. Finn
Students who have studied the world of writing with me have all been subjected to this technique because it works on so many fantastic levels to boost creativity, clear the mind, and unleash unwanted negativities when you’d like to be productive during your day. Best of all, it’s easy to do and only takes five minutes of your time.
As its name suggests, Free Writing is the act of total mental freedom when engaging with the page and the pen. Some people call it a brain dump because it allows you to throw out all the rubbish from your head before you begin your day. Others call it an unlocking because sometimes you find things that you didn’t even know you were thinking about. From our mindfulness perspective, this technique returns to the initial attitude toward self-care and mindful practice that we talked about all the way back in Lesson 1.
All this time, you’ve been allowing yourself time to escape those thoughts and emotions that worry you during your busy day and finding fun creative practices to do instead of spending that time on negativity. But now, we’re going to face those worries head on because Free Writing is bound to make some of them show up on the page. Don’t be afraid to let them out when it happens; this exercise is all about letting go and unleashing everything in your mind. With the power of pen and paper, you can accept the way that you’re feeling and then throw it away and get on with your day.
Free Writing is, perplexingly enough, the easiest and most difficult task at the same time. In terms of preparation, all you need is somewhere to write and something to write with. It doesn’t matter where you set up for your writing moment, provided that you can have five to ten minutes without being interrupted. You don’t necessarily have to be super comfortable or in a particular mood because the writing is a short task that allows you to let out exactly how you feel, exactly at that time. What can be difficult is letting it happen, so here’s the key advice.
Write down everything that comes into your head. Do not pause. Do not think or rephrase. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t matter if you lose a sentence halfway and a new one starts in its place. This page is going to be read once and then thrown away, so you don’t need to worry about it. It is one thing in your life that doesn’t matter, and it’s just for you to declutter your mind. If you find yourself pausing or unsure of what comes next, write about that. Even if you end up with a few lines of, “I don’t know what to write,” in the middle, your natural train of thought will come through and help you continue.
It’s important not to dwell on what the pages of a free writing session contain after you have unleashed them onto the page. One brief readthrough is enough, and in that time, you can think about the major concerns that have come out and your general attitude during the writing. If you see something nice and positive that you want to keep, copy it out into a different book or document. As for the rest, throw it away, and know that you have unloaded a bunch of nonsense and negativity from your brain as a deliberate act of clarity. If you did filter anything out during the write, consider why and try to let it out next time so you can begin to let go and have a truly clear mind.
As we near the end of the course, Lesson 10 encompasses everything that we have learned so far. There are plenty of different techniques and exercises here to try, so the major question now becomes: How do we fit it all in?
Stay tuned for the answer!
Dr. Vivian Wagner discusses the psychology behind Free Writing really well and gives fantastic examples of great creative people that the technique works for. Check her out at Psychology Today.
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