What is a writing marathon?
A writing marathon is a style of freewriting that lasts for two hours or more. To do a writing marathon, you simply need to write without stopping, maintaining the minimum pace of one letter per second. You can go faster, but you’re not allowed to stop.
In short, a writing marathon is awesome.
Some think of a writing marathon as a training maneuver, something grueling and challenging, like something that might be done during basic training for the military. A practice that will shape an aspiring writer into a capable and confident soldier.
But it’s also something that can be a source of profound joy, a downright indulgence for someone who wants to go deep within themselves and just see what emerges when they put pen to paper without stopping.
Try it– you just might love it.
Life Experiment: Adopt freewriting as a daily habit for a few weeks
That’s all. Not a huge commitment. We’re not talking about marriage here, just a long romantic elopement. Take it upon yourself to really try this out for awhile. See what happens when you give freewriting a solid chunk of focused time.
Everybody secretly knows that when you focus on something consistently for a while you capitalize on your gains. You improve, and you also improve your ability to improve.
Watch the effect it has on your attention span
For one thing, writing nonstop for a span of time is a huge win for developing a better attention span.
That right there is a prime example of the problem we are facing here.
What the hell is going on with our society? Who the hell is driving this thing?
Resisting the urge to distraction
Writing without stopping… why does it seem hard?
Why have we become so habituated to distracting ourselves with things we don’t actually want to be doing?
The funny thing about resisting the urge to indulge distractions is that it’s not about resisting something that you crave in a way that actually gives you a reward. It’s actually — just try to pay attention to your state of being the next time you enter the mode of “web surfing zombie” or “youtube black hole surfer.”
It’s numbing. It’s not enthralling. It’s not like actually thrilling. It’s like a siren song towards staring at a brick wall.
The thrills of actually making your own way in the world — that is something to be enthralled about.
It takes effort. It means taking a voyage into the state of uncertainty.
When we enter the creative mode, we feel visible and exposed.
When we numb out and surf, we don’t feel visible. We aren’t very interesting to Imagination.
What great ideas can we really be given when in such a state of diversion? We have limited our context to such an extent that the scope of our infinite human free will is limited to deciding what to click on next.
Even craving a brownie is more interesting than what happens to the human animal on the web in full-on web surfing mode.
It happens to everyone as far as I can tell. No one is immune. We designed it for ourselves and in many cases explicitly to take advantage of the least common denominators among us…
- The way that we can’t look away when there is an accident by the side of a road.
- The way that neon signs or blinking billboards draw us in.
- Like an infant staring up at a mobile. Except mobiles are awesome.
Ah, friends, we face a great foe here. I say that tongue in cheek but also with some sense of the actual cost in terms of energy and time. Even if the wastes of time are innocuous, I wonder what more we could accomplish if only we could better focus our attention towards what we want, not merely toward what beckons us?
If civilization is headed towards a greater awakening, then I see that awakening as a choice that we either take or ignore, like hitting the cosmic snooze button.
Put that way, it sounds like a really big deal. So it’s interesting to see how small changes can potentially make exponential improvement.
Here is an invitation for a possible lifestyle experiment incorporating freewriting as a way of moving towards manifesting what you want.
Adopt a daily freewriting practice and be consistent about it. The content you write during your freewriting sessions affords you total freedom. Use it as an opportunity and a challenge to move towards what you want in life.
Use freewriting as a way to declutter your mind and let out some of the emotional baggage we all carry around. And see what life is like on the other side of that.
Try out a weekly two-hour writing marathon. Do this on top of whatever other writing you’re doing. Just clear out some time for this. Instead of watching a movie, do this. No need to see this as a replacement for anything that is already working for you. Just eliminate something that is low priority or actually not a priority.
- Prepare your space, gathering whatever you need.
- Clear away everything that might interrupt you.
- Ground yourself and get familiar with what you would like to do during this two hour writing marathon. If you have something you’d like to write about, then spend a couple of minutes bringing that all into mind. If you want to use the time to make discoveries, then use the time to invite open-endedly the best possible outcomes, letting any rigid expectations go for the time being.
- Write without stopping for two hours.
- After you’re finished, take a break! Go for a walk. Move around. Stretch and breathe deeply. Celebrate the success of your ability to claim this time for yourself and commit to doing what you want to do.
- Then come back and read through what you wrote. Highlight or circle or copy and paste the parts that feel most alive.
You can use this material to branch outward and work on other projects. You can also simply read through it as an act of self-exploration. See what happens for you when you focus on the parts that feel the most vibrant.
Fine tune the practice so that it meets your long-term goals and needs.
Maybe you are working on a book. How can you structure your life so that you make time for that?
What freewriting activities can support you toward that endeavor? Will you need to do daily 20-minute freewrites in the morning or at night? Do you like to work best with longer stretches of uninterrupted time?
Will you need help structuring your writing so that it can become usable toward your long-term endeavor?
Reach out to me if you’d like to work together, whether for a few weeks, a few months, or longer.
Freewriting is a very adaptable way to write. When you claim time for yourself, you can replace low priority tasks with freewriting and it can help you.
It can be very dual purpose, giving you the opportunity to talk things out with yourself, whether they are about your project or something else, and of course it gives you the opportunity to write directly the material that you can use in your writing project.