The sense in nonsense

by Elliot Lyons 

In high school, I took a creative writing class. Seventeen years later, I realize that it taught me just as much about emotional/mental well-being as it did about creative writing.

To begin each class, we freewrote for five minutes, committing whatever came into our minds to paper. For those five minutes, we didn’t stop writing—disregarding spelling, grammar, and judgment of our thoughts.

What we wrote didn’t have to make sense, and that was the point; all we had to do was acknowledge the existence of our thoughts by writing them down in an unfiltered, raw manner.

Freewriting, our teacher said, would help prep us for assignments by giving us material we didn’t even know we had. As such, it also became part of our nightly homework.

Every adult can benefit from freewriting because it gives space to the feelings we ignore and sweep under the rug. Our lives are built on our abilities to control our feelings and thoughts, and allowing ourselves to let all of that go, however momentarily, can be liberating, although in a weird sort of way.

Sitting with ourselves and writing what we think without stopping is confrontational because many things we wouldn’t like to admit will come up. This part many not be so pleasant at first. When we continuously practice it, on the other hand, and review our writing, it becomes a relief because we can’t find comfort without confrontation.

Freewriting allows us to become more comfortable with our own thoughts and feelings, and discover what they really are.

Additionally, we may also find solutions for problems we have. Reading our stream-of-consciousness writing, our minds try to make sense of what’s written. Sometimes, a connection is made, which can be an answer to a problem or even help us see what the real problem is.

So, try taking between five or 15 minutes each day to commit your unfiltered thoughts to paper by freewriting.  Don’t think, don’t focus on spelling or grammar. Don’t judge your thoughts—just write.

You’ll thank yourself for it.




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