A new month means a new challenge and this time I’m giving you an excuse to buy snappy new stationery.
Every time I teach, I see at least one student stressing themselves out over a writing exercise. I might have asked everyone to write a paragraph that brings their story setting to life.
I never force anyone to share their work. But there is always that student who wants to get the exercise so right that their face scrunches up and they scratch their arm and look around in despair as they see everyone else writing away.
Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves that we suck the fun out of our art. (What if I try this thing and I’m terrible? What if I’m the only one who can’t do this exercise? What will everyone think when they realise I’m hopeless at this?)
From my experience between adult and youth writing classes, I have to say we definitely get worse with age.
Pressure, perfection, the inner critic – however you want to phrase it, it’s just our fears getting in the way of our art. And while that feeling won’t disappear, you can train that response to sit in the back seat.
How? By starting a journal.
March challenge: This month I’m asking you to free-write for 10 minutes a day. Use your phone as a timer and write anything that comes in to your head without stopping until the time is up.
This exercise feels weird at first. Sometimes you’ll write that the exercise is ridiculous, or jot down your dreams from the night before, detail a recent argument or problem or you might even begin brainstorming new ideas.
Once you’ve been free-writing for a few days, I think you’ll find it calming and you may even notice that it frees up your mind to daydream and create. It’s meditation with your favourite notepads and pens.
If you’ve ever wanted to write, this is a great start to a regular creative practice and could help you find your next project.