Release & Relief

Freewriting xy axis

Here’s a handmade response to a piece included in Peter Elbow’s Everyone Can Write titled “Toward a Phenomonology of Freewriting.”  It’s a reminder to me of the power of freewriting to initiate the unleashed production of ideas so that the writer in later stages can shape those ideas for other purposes that either come from the freewriting itself, the writer’s purpose, or audience need.

At one point, Elbow writes about the relief that freewriting brings, not only in releasing on the page as much of his thinking as possible, but also in not having to worry about the structure (and the audience) for what’s generated in freewriting.  Here’s a section I particularly like:

What a relief.  For it’s not so hard to neaten up those messy words, once they are on paper, where they stay still.   For—and this is another central experience for me when I try to write normally or carefully–the words and ideas and feelings in my head won’t stay still: they are always sliding around and changing and driving me crazy.  Interestingly enough, I find that it’s easier to clean up a mess I produced by galloping freewriting than to clean up a mess I produced by careful composing.  The freewriting is crudely jointed so that all the sections and elements are obvious, whereas the careful mess is delicately held together by elaborate structures of baling wrie, and once I fiddle with it, everything seems to fall apart into unusable or unlinkable elements.  (And sometimes, of course, the freewriting is not such a mess.)  (130)