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Through Lattice Windows: Freeform Writing

"Writing does not always have to be considered, thoughtful and deliberate,'' advises Leanne Hunt, presenting a fascinating sample of freeform writing.

Writing does not always have to be considered, thoughtful and deliberate. It can be spontaneous, emotional and unstructured as in stream of consciousness prose. In fact, freeform writing can be incredibly liberating, especially for people who have hit a block in their lives.

I first encountered freeform writing when I began taking scriptwriting lessons with a drama coach about two years ago. My coach told me, "Begin at the top of the page and write whatever comes into your head." He told me not to censor anything, but to write my thoughts as they emerged. It was quite okay, in other words, to write, "I don't know what I'm doing and I feel stupid writing this."

He also gave me a book to read by Julia Cameron called "Letters to a Young Artist". In it, an experienced writer corresponds with a young writer, encouraging him to become ware of his surroundings, to adopt a disciplined lifestyle and to explore his environment in search of stimulation. He also advises his protege to express himself freely without editing anything, just to get the creative juices flowing.

Inspired by Julia Cameron's ideas, I delved into her most well-known book, "The Artist's Way" and read about "morning pages" - the discipline of writing each morning for at least three pages in an effort to dig below the surface clutter of our thoughts and reach what really matters to us. My sister had experimented with these morning pages and found them very helpful, so I combined Julia Cameron's advice with what my drama coach had told me and continued to write daily. The result: Files and files of fascinating material which reads nothing like a conventional diary. Instead, the entries are fresh, vital and full of fascinating leads for further investigation.

Take, for example, this excerpt from my early freeform writing:

"Just returned from buying flowers at the florist. Had a good walk around the field this morning, thinking of dialogue exercise. Frost on the grass. Lovely clear air. Feeling rather daunted by the prospect of working with Steve but certain that I need the stimulation. Bridget said I must be my own person, not boring but interesting. Stillness. Pause. What next? The grass glistens with frost and the sun reflects off the field like smooth water. There is space to proceed. I can move forward at a steady pace and keep my balance. Though I am alone I am entertained by a stream of ideas…"

As you can see, the style is completely different from my usual, careful crafting of ideas in article form. Likewise, it is very different from my style in fiction. Yet it has a certain vibrancy to it which shimmers and invites me to try it again. I have not used freeform writing for about six months and it is high time I returned to it.

Indeed, I need it to loosen up my prejudices against writing in certain formats and to renew my energy for writing in general. This writer's block has gone on too long.


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