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.
Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to handwrite for this exercise) until your twenty minutes are up. It doesn’t matter if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.
And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.
I cannot remember a time when I did not have some urge to write but by the time I had reached for a piece of paper and in more recent years a dictaphone, or mobile phone’s voice recorder, most of the poignancy of the thought had dissolved into the ethers. I may then spend the next 20 minutes or so trying desperately to retrieve it even though I know from years of repeating this habit that it most certainly does not work. I may stand a chance of accessing a diluted version of the thoughts if I just accept that this is the way it is and totally let go of ever remembering any of it. It is as if I then become aware of the thought as if it were a cloud, slowly dissolving but I have caught it and the essence of what was in it, just before it finally disappeared forever.
Now there have been times when I have written things down. Somehow whatever was going through my mind in some way gained momentum, as if it was determined to be remembered. There was a time in my life when I was moved to support different people and short poignant verses would appear. Written on a nice card and given as a gift was quite transformational for them and lifted my spirits in the bargain.
Like most people, I was forced to write reams and reams at school, was expected to write essays about subjects I really did not resonate with and fictional stories where the focus was on the grammar. I can remember leaving it late in the day to do the work of a fictional piece and I chose to write a ghost story of all things. As I began to write, the story began to unfold by itself and for a while I was lost in it. That was until I scared myself rigid! Despite the fact that I knew I had made it all up, the horror thoughts just would not go away and it took me ages to get to sleep that night. I had to leave finishing the piece of work until break time at school, in daylight! I rushed the end of it just to get it finished. After that I had an even greater reluctance to write anything.
Years late I tried again. I purchase a correspondence course and wrote some dodgy short stories. I was then given an assignment to report on an actual occurrence, a news item. The critique was such that it again put me off writing. I had not embellished, sensationalised the news report, not made it appealing. For me that just seemed cruel and dishonest and I decided in that moment that a career as a journalist was no longer a desired destination – I would have to think of something else.
Time moved on and still the desire to write was there, tapping me on the shoulder, nagging me at the edge of my consciousness. Along came another course, this one had a different take on writing. It looked appealing and attainable. It was a daily course that encouraged me to write anything, just anything for a full five minutes without stopping. The point was to just get something down on paper (or screen). It worked, whilst I did the course, which for me was positive progress. And now this, 20 minutes, wow, that’ll stretch me and it has. Now let’s see if I can make it to Day 2!