In the numerous classes and workshops I took on writing, perhaps the most often used phrase was “Okay, let’s do some freewriting.” The instructor would often mention a subject or give a hand-out with different ideas and/or scenarios to write about. The time given to complete it usually ran around twenty minutes. I would stare at my paper, pen in hand, in a slight panic, wondering what to write. It seemed as if it took me half the twenty minutes to decide. All this while watching everyone else in the room bow their head over their paper, pen in hand and start. How do they immediately know what they want to write about?
Our writing group consistently included a freewriting every time we met. We used the same prompt (some are mentioned in our book) and the allotted time ran around fifteen minutes. It wasn’t unusual for us to scatter about in the kitchen, living room or patio to complete our writing. Even then, I felt as if I was last to jump into the prompt. However, an idea always came to me, especially if I got out of the way, and just let the pen and prompt take over.
I now experience the same dilemma when it comes to my turn for the blog—Fridays. I am consistently late in figuring out what to write. Late means too often, Thursdays. What in the heck am I going to write about? I squeeze my brain cells and still no answer arrives. I look around me, think of memories or an incident I experienced a few days ago and still the answer is nope, not that. I begin to panic as Thursday evening approaches. Not one iota of a subject has entered my mind. What to do?
I first heard the term “magical thinking” when I read Joan Didion’s powerful book, The Year of Magical Thinking. I was intrigued by those two words. Although her magical thinking alluded to a different subject much deeper, I believe it describes writers’ creativity. For me, the magical thinking happens when I am sitting at my desk, or driving in my car, or walking our dog or even reading a book. That elusive idea pops into my head and thoughts dance around until they form the first two or three beginning sentences. It’s just magical. There’s no other way to describe how the writing process happens.
Oh, by the way, the idea for this blog arrived early–Wednesday morning. What a relief.