A couple of months ago, a significant event happened over a delicious lunch of a spicy buffalo chicken burger and fries.  A friend of mine asked me what I write when I journal.  That stopped me mid-bite.  I had no idea how to answer that question.  When I write in my journal, I just write in my journal.  There isn’t much I don’t write.  So, I answered as technically as I could.  “Well, I write things like… I don’t know…y’know?”  From her facial expression I could see that this answer was a fail!

So then I decided to tell her about my free-writes that I do in my journal.  This is when I write down a sentence and just go with it, writing down whatever comes to my mind without judgment or without editing.  I had to put the burger down and wipe the sauce from my chin so I could flail my arms around excitedly because this is my FAVOURITE writing exercise:

Take out some paper and a pen.  DON’T get hung up over the paper.  It doesn’t have to have cute little kittens chasing yarn across the top of the page.  It doesn’t have to be baby blue.  It doesn’t have to be bound in a leather notebook.  Just get some loose leaf if that is the most accessible form of paper available to you now.

Set a timer for 5 minutes.  This is meant to glue you to your chair for a specific amount of time. Write down the first sentence that comes to your mind and then just keep writing.  Your thoughts don’t have to be related or complete.  They don’t have to make sense.  Use whatever language comes to you.  NOBODY IS GOING TO READ THIS…well, we’ll get to that later.  That’s more of a philosophical debate.

Don’t stop writing.  If you find yourself falling into a lull, write things like “I don’t know what to write.  I’m running out of thoughts.  My hand is cramping.  This is a weird exercise.  It’s Taslim’s favourite exercise?  Does she need to get a life?”  As long as the pen is moving across the page, you’re doing it!

Since journalling is a core component to any creative program, it will be a topic I come to time and again.  I have an entire manila envelope absolutely crammed full of pages of free writes.  I have a fun task ahead of me with these pages…more on this in a future post!