I recently had the pleasure of leading a creativity workshop at the San Mateo County Fair. We spent a very lively two hours creating fascinating art in traditional written word and story form through collage. In the making of the collage, participants tore up magazines, glued down images, and layered pictures on paper to reveal some amazing stories without words.
The free-form writing experience was a way to get the words down as fast as possible without worrying about organization or editing. During this 5-minute timed writing exercise, participants simply kept their hand moving along the page to allow the words to come through them. Sometimes when you don’t feel like writing, yet have a “need” to do so, free-form writing may be your way to get started.
Simply set the timer for five minutes (or any timed amount you choose), pick up your pen, or open a word document and go. Don’t think about what is coming up, why you keep coming back to the same subject, question, or comment. Just keep your pen/fingers moving. Think of the exercise as a way to get things moving creatively speaking. You wouldn’t just put on your running shoes and go out on the track at your fastest pace would you? No, you would stretch and warm up. Think of free-form writing as a way to warm up for whatever it is you are preparing to write.
Literary pursuits may not be the first thing you think of when you think of the county fair, but I’m sure there have been many pieces of great writing which began in country settings. I know there were all kinds of writing from classic novels to Sunday comics, from New York Times best sellers to teenage magazines, read in the secret sanctuary of our barn’s hayloft. My dreams of becoming a writer began there among the straw bales and the sounds of clucking chickens and bellowing cows.