An exercise in writing


Most mornings I try and do ‘my pages‘. For those of you not in the know – you sit down in front of a blank page and just write. Sounds easy? It’s phenomenally difficult to do properly.

The idea is that you move the pen across the page with as little ‘conscious’ thought as possible in order to peek beneath the rational, the self-editor, the inner critic and just let the words go.

You mostly get rubbish, what-I-had-for-breakfast, what’s-outside-the-window stuff, an essential exorcism of the inner monologue of clutter, but behind the crap and the clichés is occasional gold, you’ve just got to dig for it. Even if it’s just a juxtaposition of two words, a phrase or some sentences you like, even just an idea, for many writers it can signal the birth of a character or the beginning of a novel.

It also eventually taps into what you feel most passionately about – what pisses you off, makes you laugh, upsets you, interests you, and to write with passion is the start of good writing.

Whenever I do this with students and they read it back to themselves (aloud, which is essential), they can never quite believe it’s theirs or that those words in that particular order were waiting inside their head.

And that is the beauty of ‘pages’ or ‘automatic writing’ ‘stream-of-consciousness‘, ‘free writing’, whatever you want to call it: anyone can do, there should be no judgement, no-one else should read it and if you want to rip it up and bin it, do exactly that.

This is my 10-minute unedited effort (one side of A4) from yesterday morning:

Scritchy scratchy bleedy pencil is the weapon for today a day of sunshine and crumpets lunch in the woods and the little one at nursery. Today is a day of stepping into the mind of EB [Emily Bronte] again and rummaging a bit disrespectfully into her psyche her mind her family and why and how Today is a day of washing and nappies rushed food and coffee another day of missed sleep a day that sits parallel to my past life of satiated sleep hours what? Today is a day when politics has spoken once more and the white British priveleged [sic] male is dominant in a cabinet run by a woman today is a day of washing the sound of a rocket taking off in a bucket to be clean, sick free poo-liberated once more. The sound hums and buzzes in the back of the mind pushing and shoving the sound of birds the wind in the trees into the unheard corners of my ears where lost sounds are never heard the sound of my baby breathing deep in the night or the cry of a kitten abandoned on a highway (?) and dirty sounds pollute serenity crack at creativity and stamp on meditation I have to write about pasties goddam again innit 1,000 words for £100 – 10p a word mama mia but I shall do it for LOLs hahaha Today is a day when I waved at our neighbour but he wasn’t sure and instead flicked his hand rather than commit to a wave awks innit LOLs YOLO of course we only live once and sometimes precariously as childbirth teaches you! (taught me). Tea.