When you write…
Like a toddler in a tantrum making a mess, let it rip.
Let the voice be unfettered. Let the page be filled.
Go with what comes. Different one moment to the next.
For a time, you write the sweetest truths.
You write your long-held secrets so encapsulated you had forgotten you even still held them.
You write your goals and ambitions. Your unconscious goals and ambitions.
Your frustrations. Gripes. Doubts.
Let it all rip.
All you have to do is let it. It’ll rip by itself if you let it. All you need to do is set the parameters and stick with it. You don’t have to force yourself.
When you try to force yourself, you just constrain the flow. Forcing it means getting in your own way.
Forcing it says to inspiration “Ah, never mind, I don’t need you here. I’ve got this covered all by myself.” Never mind how you’re hunched over exhausted, how every pore of your body yearns for something new, something better.
Force yourself only in the sense that you have committed to the task. Don’t force yourself within the task.
Your forcing stops when you begin to write. The forcing stops, the flow commences. The flow continues.
Interruptions will rear their heads. Suddenly things which never seemed urgent are now wholly appealing to you. Doing your taxes and weeding the neighbor’s garden sound like excellent ideas. What a relief it would be to do something else besides continue to write.
But you force yourself to stick to your intent. To honor your decision. No matter what. Zero judgment about your writing. No forcing yourself to write a different way. No forcing away the chaos of inspiration.
As you freewrite, things are bound to come up.
The flow is not a consistent thing. It bounces one way and then the other.
One moment you’re laughing with glee. Nothing could be more fun. Nothing could be funnier than what you just wrote.
Then the next moment you are gritting your teeth.
Which happens first — the frustration or the bad writing?
Then it passes. After some time, you aren’t really that bothered. You are willing to ride this out. Flow with it. See what happens. You can even give a good chuckle at the whole trouble.
But then your writing feels flat.
Worse, you are bored.
Did the boredom come first or are you bored at what you are writing?
You press on… because some part of you knows you have to.
You are still bored.
You write boring words and sentences.
Then you start to tease yourself.
You write funny things. Stupid things. You mess with your deeply-held beliefs. You call your own bluff. You call yourself names just to get a rise out of yourself. Besides, nothing is happening anyway, and this freewrite is all a big joke, so why not make it funny, give it some punch?
You flow with that just to see how bad you can make things.
You make fun of the process. Of yourself. You write stuff that is intentionally terrible.
It turns out you can write some very dark stuff. Then you feel hurt.
Are you taking it personally?
You had expected better from yourself. Is this really the best you can do, is this all you’re capable of? Have you really slumped so low that you are stuck forcing yourself to write gibberish and make fun of yourself?
The sadness nearly gets you to abandon the whole thing. To slump off into a bit of depression. Part of you blames your sadness on your freewriting. It’s the freewriting’s fault.
You fantasize about abandoning it, wandering off. Instead of freewriting, you find yourself on a weed blog, reading about how marijuana can help with depression. This could be a possible treatment for how you are currently feeling, you tell yourself. Anything to avoid your freewriting. But the depression passes. You write about how you would walk into the kitchen, squeeze your lover and make chitchat.
You would shake your head and laugh. Admit that your decision to freewrite had been a pretty silly idea.
Entertaining this scenario, you no longer feel depressed, but you begin to think less of yourself. Why couldn’t you simply press on? In the grand scheme, your experience with freewriting hadn’t been entirely bad, had it?
Maybe if you had stuck with it. . .
Still entertaining this fantasy during your freewrite, you admit that freewriting isn’t for everyone. Someday, you decide, you will find a better way to write. Until that day, you will just have to wait for inspiration to strike. If it doesn’t strike, then you’ll resign yourself to believing that you are not really a writer. You don’t have what it takes. A real writer maybe could do crazy things like writing without stopping.
Luckily, you didn’t stop, and all this was a fleeting fantasy, a distraction within the space of your freewrite. You allowed yourself to narrate what was happening as you were experiencing it.
You write for another five minutes. About your cat. How you’d like to write a bestseller. About your concern for your car’s oil leak.
Then just like that — like lightning — your inner atmosphere changes completely and you suddenly find that you are writing about something different. Something closer to the truth. Something way better than what you had believed you needed to write about.
Your writing is good, and you don’t have to care whether it’s good or not. It feels good, and you know it’s good. But you don’t need to hang onto it. You can flow on to the next thing, whatever that might be.