Sometimes my creative endeavors feel doomed. I find myself fighting off interruptions from every quarter. It’s become meta. Yesterday I was interrupted in my work to discuss the impact of interruptions on my workflow. I live with five people, and each one of them is pretty sure the quantity and frequency of their interruptions is reasonable.
Everybody thinks it’s everybody else and that includes me. Look at me pointing fingers. That’s ridiculous. I’m getting in my own way a great deal, as I have so many times through the years.
I’m trying so hard to remove barriers, to give myself permission to do what feels the most important, what feels urgent, what feels unique and central to what I have to offer the world in the way of usefulness.
I’ve accepted that certain things will always be a bit of a struggle for me and I’m just going to have to be content with progress. I try to give myself no excuses, but at the same time forgive myself for being less organized, more forgetful than average. In certain subjects I have to accept my C grade and focus on my other strengths and talents. I can only do my best and move on.
A freewrite in the morning is a good way to clear the cobwebs and air a lot of dirty brain laundry. It’s healthy to release a huge dump of data left tumbling around in the mind after a day in these over-communicated times.
Freewriting, as I understand it, is letting whatever words come to come go straight to the page,without editing or pausing, just letting it all out. Of course, in this case, as in so many when it comes to me, I am irresistibly tempted to do more than one thing at a time. Right now, I’m recording this, and I want to get a good enough recording that I can use it to post another writing video to my channel on YouTube, but I’m editing as I type and I’m stopping to check the results of the recording and make sure things are framed okay. I also spent a lot of time before I got started setting up some lighting assistance so I would not let my vanity get in the way of getting this video. Oh, look at me editing again.
So what’s the point of getting all this out without stopping? The small talk and superficial junk centers of the mind inevitably run out of things to say at some point. I mean, they are supposed to. Apparently not mine. I don’t know what to say about that. I am an incurable blabbermouth.
But basically at some point you run out of tangents and some real meaty nuggets drop out of the subconscious. For creative types this can be a very powerful way to get around writer’s block or artistic stalls. It can be a good way to iterate on difficult problems at work or in any realm of life. It’s a bit like a private form of blackgammon blacklisting blackballing spitballing brainbooting BRAINSTORMING. My god my brain.
So in short, I recommend the practice, it’s a productive one. Julia Cameron described freewriting in her book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, but it’s not unique to her. It’s no doubt been a practice in some form among writers since written language existed. Most experts favor using paper and pen or pencil. There is much to love about the mechanics of hand and mind working in unison to bring words to life on paper. The method conveys the letters and words but also something of the physical remnant of the writer’s mental and emotional state – the pressure, the slant, the irregularities that make the mood distinct, that place the writing in a subtle context. To each their own. I find I’ve been typing long enough now that it goes very fast and gets me off to a good start. If typing is difficult or not to your taste, dictating the morning pages with the voice typing tool within Google Docs works pretty well. Use the practice ruthlessly to write whatever you damn well please, in whatever venue you like, because on some days it will be all the writing time you get.
To get our creative juices flowing, prime the pump, stoke the inner fire, we do this for at least ten minutes before we begin the day’s work, filling about three pages, or getting to about 750 or 800 or so words, and then we either just keep going because we caught fire, or we move on to other things and just consider the exercise a mental bowel movement.