Reading Peter Elbow’s 25th edition of Writing Without Teachers gave me the itch to free write. To write fast, get it down and keep moving. Not go back and change anything…just keep the fingers moving along with the stream of thought.
Discovery drafting is similar although I think one can revise along the way in discovery drafts…a write in a line of direction to see what one really thinks about a topic. Free writing, however, is simply writing while the mind thinks. I think that the orange on my kitchen table looks more delicious now that I am tired and thirsty. It didn’t appeal to me earlier.
I think that taking my Kindle on vacation will be a good antidote for the amount of plane travel in store. Hop flights to Florida, then New Orleans and three hops back to California. Untied Airlines should be called Jack Rabbit Air. Well, the island near Sarasota, Holmes Beach, is not a hub, but it will be lovely to be there and see Joy in her natural environment.
I have done laundry all evening which is a clear start on the packing game. I am stoically trying not to procrastinate. On Thursday night, when I need to get up early for the cab to the airport I don’t want to be still trying to figure out what to wear on the trip. And wondering where this and that is.
Packing is, a little bit, like trying to pre-organize one’s writing. How do I really know what the weather will be next Tuesday and what occasion I will need to dress for? Or how will I feel about those cotton pants. Will I be wishing I’d brought my jeans? The pre-organizing of writing is only good after lots of discovery drafting and gathering much material. It is good when a central thread reveals itself. Too often, I think, we make students map or list what they are going to write and then we are disappointed when the writing is basically a rehashed recopy of a graphic organizer.
I am going to continue for a few more minutes even though my should is getting crampy and my neck is complaining. There’s a weird sound distracting me coming from either the refrigerator or the laundry room. An odd sound that makes me want to stop — but no, one doesn’t stop writing during a free write.
It’s actually a prison write. A self-imposed penal process to make my thought attend to my purposes and to keep the seat in the seat.
“Oh, a puppy!” and I’m off to see what. Not this time, though. I should have set a timer so that the background noise in my head isn’t wondering if I have been writing for an hour. It has to be only a few minutes. I guess I need a specific goal. I’m at 471 words and that seems wimpy. At least 500 words without re-reading, reflectiving or revising.
I notice how accustomed I am to revising while I write. Just whistle while you work. Revise while you write. This is weird to not go back and see where it began. Just plunge on. I don’t think it is stream of consciousness because I only feel dimly conscious. I am aware that I’m typing fast enough for my finger tips to feel it and my finger muscles to begin to tire. Ah, there’s another area to build stamina. Keyboarding.
I want to know why I sometimes really want to write and sometimes I just push myself to do it. Like taking calcium or vitamins. I want the habit of mind that comes with daily writing and I want a body of thought to sift through to see if I can find something — a kernel even– to create a polished piece from. And yet, most of my “small moment” writing recently has been based in a real, recent memory, like what happened today.
This sort of writing invites me to amble in my thoughts, like taking a walk. So much different than dipping back into today. Ugh, perish the thought. It was Monday. Who can make great narratives out of a mealy Monday? And don’t think I’m going to remember today, Little Mind, because I’m being here now with the clickety click of the keyboard and my wondering what the hell I’m doing this for.
Oh, yes, I remember. Reading Peter Elbow and remembering my own practice of free writing and my god awful down drafts which appalled me until I could find some little bit in them to rewrite into a real piece. And I downloaded his other book, Writing with Power. My Kindle is going to be a fun toys on the many airplanes.
I am thinking that 787 words is enough for my first semi-mindful free write.