Wednesday, January 21, 2009

About Free Writes

Back in 1997, I was depressed, so I started seeing a not-particularly-helpful therapist. In one of our sessions, she suggested I start a diary. I suggested that a diary would depress me. (Um, hello, I'm coming to see you because my life depresses me, so writing about it would be depressing, don't you think?) She then suggested that I stop trying to think of things to say in my diary, but just write the words that came to me. So I rolled my eyes and agreed to try it.

OMG. Words poured out. At first they didn't, but within two or three days, my writing went from something about a friend to some ellipses to "four dots to every eye - four corners to every square - but a neverending circle to every whirlpool - every windshower..." And then more. I never would have chosen consciously to put these words together. But there they were. From my pen. I didn't even know what I had written until after I put down the pen.

My next therapy session, I was so excited. I read what I had written to my therapist. She freaked out a little - I can't remember how, now, but I do remember thinking, "This is dumb. I'm outta here." So I dumped the therapist but kept the technique. For about a year, I wrote whenever I felt the compulsion. I wrote the words I saw, one word at a time, at first on whatever scrap of paper I could find, and then in a journaling book that a friend bought for me so all the writings could be in one place. For the next six months, I carried the little book around with me. Amazing words showed up. I called them my "free writes," for lack of a better term. They were inspiring. They put me in a zone.

In the end, the compulsion for free writes slowed down to a trickle. But I had learned a lot about writing in the process, and started writing with less rigidity. And then there were the words themselves. I have never published them, but I've always thought they'd be great for greeting cards, or "thought of the day" calendars.

So in that spirit, I am going to start posting my free writes from 10 years ago. One a day. Even if I blog nothing else on a particular day, I'll be blogging a free write.

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