Hello Writer’s Block, my old friend. Sometimes, sitting down to write can feel like you’re sitting down to try and move a mountain; a colossal task. You can find yourself with your pen in your hand and your eye out of the window, waiting for a huge asteroid of inspiration to soar past. But I have found that it is actually something far more subtle than an asteroid-of-a-thought that puts the ink back into the pen. It’s instead, a small, no, a tiny seed that plants itself into your mind, holding all the potential for something new to grow.
As I’ve learnt moving along my own journey with writing, growing this little seed is simple.
All it needs is:
Five minutes. A piece of paper. A pen. No context, no tone and absolutely no rules.
This exercise is known as freewriting
I LOVE to free-write, especially before I start working on a new assignment. I really feel like it allows me to drop into myself, and warm up my words. Before I started this blog post, I sat for a moment and as I always do, started typing into a blank document something totally unrelated to what I was meant to be doing! I don’t see this habit as time-wasting but as part of the creative process.
If you are new to this idea let me warn you that freewriting can, at the very start, feel almost as paralysing as writing for purpose. Which thought out of infinite thoughts do you reach out and grab? What steps do you follow in the realm of no rules? What is the end goal? Calm that monkey mind and make peace with this new-found and delicious freedom! Freewriting is to us writers, what push-ups are to an athlete: training.
I’ve learnt that really, the hidden gem to be found from freewriting is calmness. Whether you are finding it easy or not, relax your hand, your mind, and put your pen to the paper. Soon you will be watching one word appear, then another and another. Let one raindrop fall until it unleashes the storm that follows, and find yourself in the still centre, surrounded by the beauty of your own creativity.
Allowing yourself these five minutes every day, to step out of your daily life and into the artist’s cave of creation is key to strengthening your ability to channel the unknown entity that we call imagination, which follows each of us, and that we bring to the world with our own unique gift!
Bringing your passion to work for yourself is paramount. Freewriting isn’t just journalling, daydreaming or avoiding the job, but having fun with your writing and knowing what to do when writer’s block turns up again uninvited!
My grandmother always told me that life happens when you’re not looking. In the gaps and the silences, under your feet and over your shoulder, there is always a story to be found.
The almost too-ordinary gentleman on the train this morning caught my eye and shared a half smile with me, who could he be? Does he put his socks on first or his trousers? What book does he have on his bedside table? Does he choose coffee or tea? No sugar, or three? Perhaps he puts his socks on first, and although you can’t see them under his pinstripe suit, they are odd; one navy and one maroon. Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being with folded pages and all the scars that show it’s been read more than once lays on the small table next to the right side of the bed; his side, his husband always has the left. He drinks Earl Grey tea, not too much milk, and never sugar, he doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. It’s Tuesday, which means a salsa class after work. He and his husband fell in love with the dance, the music, the colours after their honeymoon to Brazil in 1997. A long time ago now, and it’s an ode to their happy years to spend one hour a week, moving, laughing, forgetting: about the bills piled up in the messy drawer and the work deadlines unread in the inbox and the unspoken distance that creeps in-between a couple after so much time together. He is Cool Uncle Jack to 3 young nieces and one teenage nephew. Sophia, Lily, Mona and Harry. They always leave his house with chocolate and a £2 coin. They like exploring his garage filled with exotic music vinyls and a dusty record player, something from the olden days they tell their friends. And he probably does cook good food if your mouth likes spicey but as for me, I prefer a more mild palette. Cool Uncle Jack, with the odd socks and the messy drawer, got off the train two stops before I did.
We didn’t catch eyes again.