Isn’t it funny how something of value can be diminished or forgotten over time. Perhaps it’s because other things take precedence. Maybe it’s because we’ve forgotten why we valued it in the first place.I recently discovered (or was reminded of) a way in which to unearth it, which requires very little time and perhaps even less effort. It is a beautiful thing called free writing. Inspired by a few words and carried out by as many fingers. It uses a thought–a prompt if you will–and a smidgen of time, though the latter can often be ignored if the result warrants it.
I first discovered free writing when I was a senior in high school. I had a fantastic creative writing class with not one, but two talented artists at the helm. They taught me how to read faster, thoughtfully, and discover what was buried deep within my heart and get it out on paper. Free writing is different than merely thinking. It allows you to put your thoughts down on paper as they come, thus freeing up your mind for all that’s buried underneath you didn’t know was there. Even now as we speak I’ve renamed this exercise to emulate its gift and purpose. Finding that treasure that is buried in our subconscious or our heart, fighting to break free.
It’s like an anxious child digging through their toy chest, pulling things out and throwing them aside, oblivious or uncaring to the mess they are making in their effort to find that lost item of value they know is in there….somewhere. Or less appealing, but just as effective, is the individual forced to clean out the fridge and in turn, unearthing a once precious item that has become something horrific in its languishing state. Both discoveries offer their own emotions upon reveal, and yet give us a sense of relief as they find their way out–for good or bad.
How much of ourselves do we bury out of fear, hurt, or simply out of neglect because of something more pressing that has taken its place? Are we actively searching to unearth those hidden treasures, unwilling to let them stay buried or forgotten? Or does our fear cause us to push things back until we’re forced to address them in whatever state they’re in.
Every now and again our fridge will unearth a rare treasure that has stood the test of time and grown to something even more beautiful. Revealing itself at just the right moment when you need it most. A chilled soda, a slab of sharp cheese that just needs a little trimming. We laugh, knowing it was there all along, but discovering it at just the perfect moment when we need it most.
Free writing is a lot the same way. It has the potential to unearth what’s buried within our hearts and minds, revealing thoughts, plots, and yes occasionally some moldy cheese that needs a little trimming before it becomes a thing of beauty once more. Even better is how it frees us of what we know without taking it away forever. Transferring it to written form allows us to take a closer look at it, and more times than not takes us somewhere we didn’t know we wanted or needed to go.
I can’t tell you how many times my writing has begun with a simple prompt or thought and very quickly taken me along a completely different tangent.
And so begins the “Treasure Hunt” where the prize for each of you will be of your own making, and the only help I can give is a “prompting” to get started.