How to get lost in writing stuff on paper!

How to get lost in writing stuff on paper!

I write on my iPhone most of the time. I know that sounds a bit modern fashioned, but I always have my iPhone with me. It is the easy option.

In an instant, I can capture the moment and build on it later. I don’t always get the most exact grammar or logic when I use the iPhone, but there is nothing else like it for ease of use, speed, and flexibility.

But I do miss pen and paper. There is something special about taking the time to write carefully using the tools of old. I still partake in the ancient art of writing by hand, and I will try to write on my paper notebook at least once or twice a week. 

When I say write, I mean to create something of substance. My notebook writing is often something I have learned that week, and I am in the process of reflecting upon it. The entry takes the shape of reference notes, reflections and some questions with answers that I will have asked myself.

I like how the handwriting compliments the scribbles I capture on the iPhone. I get deep satisfaction from looking back on my paper journals and adding to the notes from previous weeks.

It works for me, and I have my system. All is good.

However, my mate suggested I go more free flow and just write away in my notebook. Write a stream of consciousness and see where it takes me.

My initial thought was NO. I like the idea in principle, but my notebook is my notebook and has personal and sentimental value. It means something. Stream of nothingness will detract from it, and it will irritate me because it won’t fit the notebook’s purpose. Even if I never read the mundane scribbles in the future, I would know it was there, in the book, and so it would be a spoiler for me. 

This demonstration of control is probably a more rooted insight into my psyche. My perfectionist organising streak means everything has to make some sense.

With my resistance to the original idea obvious, my mate positioned a counteroffer. The proposal was that I use some loose pages of printer paper to try it and see the end result. Then I can decide if it fits with the purpose of my ever so precious notebook.

So that was a logical proposal, made sense to me. I agreed and set myself up with paper and a fresh black gel pen. My writing tool of choice. 

I sat and looked at the blank page and then drew a flower right in the middle of the paper. I was going to continue to draw more flowers and leaves and expand on that theme, but I thought I better text my mate to check-in to see if I could draw as part of the process.

No, you dumbass. Was his reply. You are doing free-form writing and not free-form drawing, so write.

Are there any rules? I text back.

None? Was his reply.

How do you do it? I asked, likely avoiding the idea of starting afresh to write on a clean, crisp blank page with no purpose.  

I do these five things, came his reply.

  1. I make sure I have plenty of paper.
  2. I turn off my iPhone and MacBook, TV, so I don’t get interrupted.
  3. I slam on some great music and wait.
  4. When I hear a particular lyric that I like, I start to write why I like that lyric and what it means to me…. And I am off and running.
  5. I don’t use too much punctuation, and I keep writing until I am done.

How do you know you are done? I asked.

You will know, trust me. Your brain will dry up. You will know when that happens. It is time to stop.

Off I went. Feet first into the blank page once I had set up the music and killed the MacBook and phone.

The HomePod filled the air with sounds, and I drifted into my head. Waiting. Bobbing to the music and waiting. And then I caught it, like an early morning surfer catching that third wave. The rewarding wave that was better than the first two and won’t be beaten by any other that morning.

My starting lyric…

“The chicken thinks in mysterious ways, but beauty is not what we are after. And the chicken imagines a heaven full of roosters and plenty of corn.”

David Byrne
A Modern Art display, Beijing, China.

Thank you, Mr David Byrne…

Do chickens think and if so what do they think about and what do they think about when they are laying an egg is it a positive thought or an negative thought will it be a sigh of relief or a celebration and do they cluck when they lay that egg so the other chickens can join in the celebration and if a chicken can lay one egg a day and the city of Beijing has twenty two million people consuming at leat one egg a day then there is a place close by that must have a whole lot of chickens….

Approximately thirty five minutes later…

…So to reinvent yourself from the ground up would take all of that and more because what I just wrote is the basics but the real change will come from taking flight and making that jump so that you can test the strength of your parachute and your skill in navigating to the ground safely and with thy sense of achievement that will mean you get back on the aeroplane and back up to that flight toward change and so it all over again.

I stopped.

My brain felt like I had been doing some physical workout. It was strained but strong and pumped like your body would feel after weights, running or rowing.

I looked down at the pages that I created and saw some underlined words and sentences that I had circled. I had mined the gems as I went, and I was pleased that I did because there are some cool streams of consciousness that I could explore in more detail in the immediate future.

I am now a big fan of free-flow writing and dropping a stream of brain gaggle that is well worth looking into for inspiration. I learned a lot in the process and will make it a part of my weekly routine.

My only regret was that I didn’t write it in my notebook. Dolt.

Where is my Pritt-stick?


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