When I present my journaling and creative expression classes, I always include at least one, and usually several, freewriting sessions with the writing exercises. Why? Because they are so effective at getting to the heart of whatever we are working on for the class.
What is Freewriting?
Freewriting is a writing exercise that focuses on the process of writing rather than the end result. Rather than stopping to think and then write, we keep the pen moving, writing whatever pops into the brain. What we are trying to do is out-write our own internal editor so that we can access the unvarnished, raw thought and ideas that are lurking in our subconscious.
It’s not, really. But through this process, people often end up writing things that give them, and others, goosebumps. In a good way.
How Do You Freewrite?
I find it best to start with a timer. Generally, I choose a writing time between 5 and 20 minutes. Shorter than five minutes won’t get you far, even five minutes is a bit short, but I find that more than 20 minutes can be too much. With the longer time, it’s easy to forget what you’re doing and go get a cookie instead of writing.
Set your timer.
Start writing. Don’t let your pen stop moving.
Write about anything that pops into your head. If you think you don’t have anything to write, write “I don’t know what to write” over and over again until different words start coming out of your pen.
Keep writing. Ignore spelling errors and grammar, just shovel words onto the page. They don’t have to make sense. Just keep writing more words, without stopping.
When you hit another wall where you think you can’t come up with any more words, keep writing anyway. Write the words that sound wrong. Write the words that make you want to hesitate. Just get the words out of your head and onto the paper.
Keep writing till the timer stops.
That’s it. It’s that simple, and it’s that challenging.
What are the Benefits of Freewriting?
1. A freewriting practice allows you to separate the editing process from the creating process.
2. Freewriting is a practice that helps you overcome the need for perfection in your earliest drafts.
3. Freewriting can reveal thoughts and ideas that you didn’t realize were percolating under the surface, and get you more in touch with your own thoughts
4. The process of freewriting is often a catalyst for inspiration and increased creativity, especially when done as a regular practice.
5. It is often possible to gain some clarity and perspective on a troubling issue while freewriting.
6. Freewriting can be a form of release, of letting go of bottled-up thoughts and emotions.
This whole process is meaningful and useful for creatives, but also valuable for dealing with everyday life.
If you have a freewriting practice, I’d love to hear how it’s working for you. Share your tips and triumps, and any frustrations you have with the practice as well.
If you’ve never tried it – I dare you. Tell me how it goes.
LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER features live readings by local writers on the beauty, the beast, and the barely-rested of motherhood, in celebration of Mother’s Day. Born of the creative work of mothers who publish on-line, each production is directed, produced, and performed by local communities, for local communities.
To the mom who brings her child their own cup cake to a kid’s birthday party:
I know you get looks from the other parents, but I understand.
Food sensitivities are nothing to mess with.
I know you stayed up late working on that cupcake. You made it extra pretty.
You brought it, not because you were trying to make your child feel excluded, but just the opposite, you wanted her to be a part of this party, and you wanted her to have a treat, just like all the other kids. But you had to make it safe for her.
It’s not easy to see your kid on the outside, and I promise you, I will not take your kid’s special diet lightly.
To the mom who’s wondering when she will start to feel like a grownup and have all the answers:
I’m sorry, but we only have all the answers about how other people should parent their kids.
The moments of feeling like a grownup are rare, but most of the time you have the bills, the responsibilities, the mouths to feed, the guilt about your own shortcomings, and conflicting advice from all the usual suspects, but not so much with the answers.
You feel like you haven’t quite arrived at being a grownup, until one day you wake up and realize you’re old.
Of course, feeling old is no guarantee you’ll have the answers. Same old questions, new arthritis.
To the mom of the toddler throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store:
I’m sorry I was staring. I promise I wasn’t judging you; I’ve been there, and I was reliving it. The world is full of people who think the wailing and kicking are because the parents always cave, but I know that that little fit was because you didn’t cave.
Or maybe it was just because the store was out of Spiderman toothbrushes and the Incredible Hulk just wouldn’t do.
I’ve encountered so many people who believe children should be seen and not heard, and for that matter almost never seen except for when they’re being perfect and adorable. They would never admit they believe this, but they give themselves away… “why don’t they just take the kids home when they fuss?” people wonder.
But I know.
I know you and your children would starve if you took the kids home every time they threw a fit.
To the mom who is tired:
The mom who will go to bed soon, but first she has to make sure the clothes make it from the washer to the dryer before they sour, load the dishwasher, and get the kid up for a midnight potty so she doesn’t wet the bed…
I know you’ve been told before that you need to take care of yourself first, so you have the strength to take care of the kids.
I also know you’re just going to keep doing what you feel like you need to do.
I hope, sometimes, you get the rest you need.
The kids will grow, and soon they’ll be able to pour their own bowl of Cheerios. They’ll destroy the kitchen in the process, but at least you’ll get to sleep in for 20 minutes or so.
To the mom who is living with cancer or another life threatening or chronic condition:
I’m right there with you.
I know what it’s like to wonder how much time you have with your kids.
I’ve listened to my baby cry, unable to pick her up and waiting for someone to come bring her to me, feeling helpless and maybe a bit useless.
I’ve had those dreams that ended with someone else raising my child.
I’ve wondered if I was enough.
I’ve wondered if I could hang on long enough that she would be old enough to have memories of me. I’ve wondered if it would be easier for her if I didn’t.
I worried that I was letting her watch too much TV, but let me tell you something, TV is awesome. Besides, SuperWhy taught my daughter how to read.
Now I worry about my relationship with my own patchwork body, and how I can help my daughter develop a healthy body image when I still feel like my body betrayed me. My husband and I joke about my million dollar body, but I still miss those missing parts, I’m still anticipating the next body part failure.
To the mom who apologizes to her kid after losing it:
Thank you for showing your child that adults make mistakes too, that making mistakes and learning from them is part of being human.
Thank you for teaching your child that what you do after a mistake is often as important, if not more important than the mistake itself.
Thank you for modeling that behavior. It’s so awesome for kids to have a real live example, so they know what a meaningful apology is supposed to look like.
To the mom who is lonely:
I’m lonely too.
We’ve got the kids, but there’s only so far I can follow a conversation about My Little Pony or Minecraft before I really need to talk to another adult, and my husband doesn’t get home till late.
How do you connect with the parents of the other kids at the playground? Even when your kids hit it off and you have a nice conversation, there’s that awkward moment where you work up the nerve to ask about a playdate.
Sometimes you’re just not able to work up the nerve at all, but when you do, It feels like you’re asking the mom out on a date. You give her your number and wonder, will she call?
And they don’t always call.
Sometimes you meet up and it’s awesome, up until it’s time to go home and then your kid is the one who throws the epic tantrum that can be heard from 3 blocks away.
But every once in a while, you make a friend.
To all these moms, and to all the other moms out there:
Let’s stick together, lets have each other’s backs. Raising humans is hard, it’s exhausting, and it’s often a thankless job so let me just take this moment to say thank you.
My daughter doesn’t have a baby keepsake book, she has my blog. For the past decade, social media has been the family scrapbook, recording the bumps and bubbles along the way, with a bit of introspection here and there to frame, add context, and derive meaning from the stories.
Five years ago we celebrated the 20-year reunion of my high school graduation. I wasn’t able to attend the gathering, but still, it gave me pause… My friendships with many of my classmates are more robust and meaningful now that we live thousands of miles apart than the were when we saw each other every day in school. Social media helped us to leap-frog over superficial variables like social status, that extra 40 pounds, or even proximity, and we began to connect over conversations, shared values, and even our differences.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, social media played another role in my life. One of the devastating impacts of cancer is the way it isolates us from the rest of the world: long, dark hours holed up in the bedroom, too tired for company, yet still lonely. Social media allowed me to chat with others and keep up with my friends at my own pace. Facebook and my blog allowed me to maintain contact with the outside world, update loved ones on my condition, and even coordinate some of the help around the house I so desperately needed. Now that I have completed cancer treatment, I use social media to help and encourage others who are dealing with cancer and it’s lingering side-effects.
McKinley family after the move to Alaska. 1947 – My mom is the little one in braids, peeking out from under her grandfather’s elbow.
This wonderful interconnected age also helps me explore my family history. Old photos brought down from dusty attics can be scanned in and broadcast to family members around the world, and the comments return with fascinating stories. Collectively, my family’s understanding of our past is enriched as we each participate in sharing these photos and stories. And as they are recorded, in the blog and elsewhere, they will be a resource for future generations as well.
With all this awesome of social media and digital technology comes some responsibility. We need to be smart about what we share about ourselves and others. National PTA has partnered with LifeLock to share awesome ways families can create an open, evolving conversation about positive, safe decisions when using digital tools. It’s all part of having a happy, healthy lifestyle. For you, your family, your friends, and the whole world – everyone benefits when you #ShareAwesome!
Snap a photo of an awesome moment in your day and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the #ShareAwesome hashtag!
Students who enter the #ShareAwesome contest between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will have a chance to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
When I stepped off the elevator into the Allrecipes offices, it opened up into a stunning kitchen and dining area. Food is the focal point of everything they do, and the kitchen is where that magic happens.
The stunning view from the kitchen looked out over Westlake Park, and across to the Macy’s building.
I had no idea that Allrecipes was in Seattle, a start-up born 17 years ago from a few University of Washington students bouncing around ideas for using this new internet thingy in conjunction with database technologies. I think they hit on a winner.
17 years is ancient in terms of social media, and they brought out their experts to give us some pointers
Don’t simultaneously post the same update on all the social media outlets.
Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are used differently by media consumers, take that into consideration when posting.
Schedule posts in advance so they go out throughout the day, rather than bombarding readers with multiple posts hitting their feeds all at the same time
Kale and quinoa, and other healthy foods are hot right, but if you want a boost, cheesy casseroles are always good for a bump in shares.
Everyone loves grandma’s cheesy casseroles. People love grandmas. Grandmas are hot right now.
spritz food with water or olive oil to freshen it up during the photo shoot.
a sprinkle of salt or large grain sugar adds sparkle
if you are working with whipped cream, adding a little cornstarch during whipping will help it hold up better during the photography session
Of course, they fed us at the Allrecipes event: salad on a stick. That turned out to be quite the cute entertaining idea – the buffet line include kebab sticks with easily pierce-able foods such as ravioli, mozzarella pearls and cherry tomatoes. My favorite combo was watermelon, feta, and mint.
True to form, combining a bunch of bloggers with a food oriented event meant getting through the line took a minute as we all snapped away as we loaded our plates. Luckily I snapped a couple shots before loading my plate because I quickly realized that I am not graceful enough to juggle photography with a plate full of food.
Dessert was on a stick as well: strawberry shortcake on a stick. This was doughnut holes and strawberries. Chocolate sauce and whipped cream were provided for embellishing the treat.
This was such a great event, and I want to thank Allrecipes and Seattle Bloggers Unite for putting this event together. I look forward to delving into all that Allrecipes has to offer, and you can expect more recipes to be highlighted on this blog in the future.