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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Freedom of Freewriting

I love my freewriting group. I've been meeting with them for a couple of years now, and unlike the majority of writing groups, we don't bring polished pages to hand around and discuss. We come with laptops poised to create new documents, or we bring notebooks or legal pads with blank pages. After a short time of catching up with each other, one of us will throw out a couple of suggestive prompts: "Become the other," and "Create a conflict," were the ones from last night. Then we look at the clock. We calculate an hour and the we begin.

An hour later, somebody calls out softly, "It's time." We put down our pens and hit "save" on the laptops. And one of us will begin to read.

I am always astounded, always, at what happens in that span of time when we are all quietly tapping away or scribbling. Last night I scribbled longhand again for the first time in about a year. I found myself writing with much less hesitation, the pen flying across the paper, and it did feel free. I went places I never expected; and startling revelations happened. I found a new character that I never knew was hiding behind another one.

I was moved and awed listening to the others in the group. A fantastic, surprising story that took place in an elevator. A haunting, dreamlike scene set in a dark night in Brazil. A synopsis of a sci-fi novel with a fantastic bio-computer-brain partly made of electric fish. A rich, evocative scene from a memoir set in China; two men holding hands as they visit an antique market. When everyone was finished I sat back in amazement. We did all this an an HOUR? But it happens like that more often than not; when the clock is ticking down, and everyone is writing together, the words just end up singing.

Sometimes, it's the one hour in two weeks that I actually get any writing done. Now, the trick is making it happen when I don't have that group energy. When errands and daily tasks are calling out to me, I have to force myself to imagine that I am
always part of a writing group - a worldwide group of invisible writers, all writing at the same time, all trying to do the impossible, all just sitting down and doing it.


Blogger Libby said...

I love the idea of a worldwide writing group, Susan! What a great thought!

Friday, December 16, 2005 9:56:00 AM

Blogger C(h)ristine said...

I'm so happy you have this space in your life! I have the same with a great friend...we just gather, write for one hour, and let ourselves BE. In such spaces, creativity runs rampant!

Friday, December 16, 2005 11:25:00 AM

Blogger melanie said...

I love what happens during freewrites, too! It makes me think, wow, if only I got off my butt and did this all the time. (Why write freely only when we're freewriting?)

This is inspiring - thank you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 12:37:00 PM

Blogger Masha said...

this was a great entry, Susan. thanks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 10:50:00 AM

Anonymous SFgirl said...

Susan, I've just joined a writing group of two ladies and we plan to do this freewriting too. Your post makes me all the more eager to start!

Monday, January 09, 2006 9:43:00 AM

Blogger Susan said...

sfgirl, I hope you have a great time with your new writing group. Let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 10:23:00 PM


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