Thursday, 1 October 2009
Freewriting in Cyberspace
It's a beautiful sunny day here and the mill and the weir are looking glorious in their autumn colours. I'm still feeling very travel-lagged, but aware that I have to start travelling again on Tuesday, bound for Cambodia. So I'm running around throwing things into the washing machine, or into the suitcases and occasionally getting it the wrong way round.
It's also the first week of a new university term, so I've begun tutoring creative writing on-line again for the Open University. Really enjoyable, but much more challenging on the internet because there's such a lot that can't be communicated by a message or an email. That wonderful group feeling of trust and support is very difficult to generate online, and I miss the way that ideas can spark themselves off in a face-to-face group leaving everyone feeling good about themselves and their work.
One of the very first things that students have to tackle is the Freewrite. I know that some writers find freewriting very stimulating because it's supposed to release the creative unconscious from the inhibitions of the controlling areas of the brain. But a lot of students find the technique difficult - putting the pen to paper and just letting it go can be a bit challenging - and some find it impossible. I use freewriting occasionally - if I'm blocked on something and can't breakthrough, I try it, using the association of ideas, putting down words randomly and seeing where I go. But I'm such a control freak that my freewrites usually come out structured in some way! I'm no good at morning pages either - another technique that many writers swear by. My ideas come in the middle of the night when I wake up for no obvious reason at all and find myself wandering around with a cup of tea. Then, I can write reams and reams and my sub-conscious has no problem putting its hands up and saying 'I give in. Don't shoot! I'll tell you everything.'
I guess one of the most important things to communicate is that everyone is a different sort of writer - what works for one person doesn't for another.