Top tips for finding freedom with free-flow writing
Free-flow or stream of consciousness writing is one of my absolute favourite, most immediately soul-enriching, bring-you-back-to-the-present, intuitive, revealing, creative practices ever. Ever ever.
And it takes little time and requires just a pen and paper (although I have a tendency to paint all over my writing too…)
So how do we do it? Firstly, set a limit. Either give yourself a set amount of time (setting an alarm will help you focus on the writing) or decide on how many pages you’re going to fill. My advice would be to start small – a page or 5 minutes, building to 10/15 minutes or 2/3 pages. And then…. just write. Whatever comes into your head, even if it’s what you had for breakfast or “I don’t know what to write”, more will flow from there. I find it so permission giving because you can’t get it wrong – whatever comes is what is right for you in that moment. And I always gain some kind of release or insight or strength from it. A sense of dumping out the crap to reach what is really important.
As we grow up we develop a sense of what is the “right” way to conduct ourselves. Through family, school, friends, religion, and the wider society we learn certain beliefs about ourselves, others and the world. We become conditioned to respond the way we do. But that is very unlikely to align with who we truly are. Tapping into our unconscious through free-writing is one way to untangle ourselves from this conditioning Bit by bit we are able to release our intuitive self and to find harmony within ourselves, our human relationships and the natural world.
Communicating in symbolic form, the unconscious thrives on creativity, forever attempting to send messages to us through metaphor and imagery. When we make space to slow down and listen, those images come through loud and clear. So don’t be surprised if your writing takes you on a flight of fantasy! It can be enough to receive the message, even if you don’t quite understand the meaning. You’ll likely feel a shift within you, a sense of relief, of letting go as you are gradually unbound from your conditioning. You may also choose to deepen your inner-growth by ‘decoding’ the message, bringing it fully into consciousness and freeing yourself a little more.
Be gentle with yourself
It may take some time to get into it – to shake off the hustle and bustle of our culture, to quieten your mind enough to be able to listen to your body, your soul, your intuition. To hush your inner-critic so that the words flow freely. Give yourself space and trust the process.
Give yourself permission to write whatever comes to you
Even if it doesn’t seem to make sense or feels offensive! Remember, the unconscious communicates symbolically not literally. Avoid reading what you’ve written while you’re still writing. In fact, when you’re first starting out, I would invite you not to read back over your writing at all. Give it a month or so. This can be really hard! We are so used to constantly analyzing everything. Trust that delaying reading it is giving you the freedom you need to develop an enduring practice.
Stay in the moment
Allow your unconscious to take the driving seat by asking your rational mind to be quiet. Flow with the writing, trying not to control it. If the topic changes abruptly, so be it.
Seek inspiration from within
Allow yourself to be guided by what’s going on for you in the moment. It might start with an emotion, a physical sensation, a movement. See what’s there and see where it wants to lead you.
Seek inspiration from without
So many times I’ve found my gaze attracted to something during a free-writing session and run with it. See the example below where I go from the pen I’m writing with to the ancient wisdom of the sea! I personally find nature a wonderful muse.
Start with a stimulus
This can be a really good way to get started – choose a word or theme and start writing about it – don’t stop!
Free-Writing for a Free Soul E-Course
Would you like to give free-writing a try in a supportive online group, led by an HCPC registered dramatherapist? Write your way to calm, clarity and connection with my gently guided 4-week e-course starting in September. For more details click here.
And for an example of free-writing, here you go…
“Good morning, good morning – so cold, so sleepy. Head thick, fog, slow. Blur. So so early, the joys of motherhood. Demands always. I sit with my daughter – she draws, I write. I write, I write, something. Anything. Letting the pen flow. Flow like water down, down a stream. It joins a great river – roaring and rushing. Powerful and beautiful. It flows in to the sea. Suddenly losing its sense of power as it becomes just a small part of something so vast. So still. Wait, not still – but slower. Undulating, as it wraps itself around the earth. Greeting the land with a playful tickle, a ferocious bear hug, a shy tap before running away again. Back and forth it greets and retreats, the ebb and flow breathing a rhythm into the earth and all its inhabitants. It’s there for us all if we just listen. Listen and begin to move to the rhythm, let it guide our hearts, our minds, our movement. Embody the living, breathing earth and all she has to teach us. Just quieten down, slow down enough to listen to the rush and the hiss, let it draw us in to its ancient wisdom. Holding us in its sway, soothing us with its rhythmic lulling. We are home. We are home.”