Freewriting: What Happened To My Passion?

Thursday, February 26, 2009
Have you ever felt the need to listen to a particular song and find yourself scouring You locate the video and remember exactly what it meant to you--where you were, what you were doing, and why it's still important, or should be--and afterward, you notice those little links that pop up recommending you to view other related videos. Sometimes they're by the same artist, sometimes they're merely similar, but before you realize it, you're following a trail of breadcrumbs and looking up old favorites from decades ago.

That just happened to me.

I started looking up Kate Bush songs, then progressed to Peter Gabriel, and that led to the 1986 Amnesty International Concert, "Conspiracy of Hope." I worked for Amnesty at that concert as a volunteer and passed out flyers. I was fourteen-years-old. After my duties were finished, my friends and I crept up to the fourth row and enjoyed face-time with the performances of Peter Gabriel, U2, Sting/The Police, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Lou Reed, Miles Davis, Madonna, Sean Penn and Bob Geldof. Funny thing is, I'd almost completely forgotten about the concert until I saw the related link on YouTube. How could I forget something as important as that? After all, my friends and I started the Amnesty International club at our high school, and if I'm not mistaken, it still remains today.

When I was fourteen, the issues pertaining to human rights were extremely important to me. I wrote poems, stories, performed spoken word about Steven Biko for my speech class, and painted to serve the cause. After years of moving around, I've lost those paintings. But as I viewed the concert on YouTube, I remembered each one of them vividly. I painted abstract figures wrapped in barbwire, trees engulfing buildings, and black lines of imprisoned figures holding flowers between steel bars. Those paintings either went into a dumpster when my father's house sold, or are hanging on a free spirit's wall somewhere. The latter makes me smile.

The thing is, as I got older and "busier" I forgot about my passions as a teen. Is this something that happens to everyone? Do we simply evolve, or in my case, "devolve," and forget about the things that really stirred us in our youth?

I'm happy I checked my insecurities at the gate when I entered my thirties, but what about those things that instilled a sense of passion and place in my teens? What happened to the young activist? Did she meet an early demise by the hand of her family and daily duties? I sincerely hope not.

Yeah, we grow up and have different mindsets. It's for the better, I'm sure. But somehow, we seem to relinquish the fresh perspective that can be such a gripping tool to the writer. Lately, I've been looking back at my writing and wonder if I've de-gressed. I know what the cure is, and I've been ignoring it. It's simple. It's organic. It's non-edited, non-structured, and nonsensical. It's freewriting.

Freewriting allows us to let go.

If you haven't freewritten in a while because of obligations, responsibilities, or the need to make every word count because you're a freelancer, take a moment and rediscover the art of letting your words flow recklessly and carelessly onto paper. Embrace every thought.

This post is a freewrite. I had no idea where it would go. I started with one idea and hoped that I would find a resolve. I think I did, and maybe next time, I will find my passion.

Freewriting Exercise:

  • Start with a blank page and type one topic idea at the top.
  • Set a timer for ten minutes. You really don't want to do it for any longer than that because freewriting is a warm up for more focused writing.
  • Begin to type anything that comes into your head. Don't stop until the time is up.
  • When you are done, see what you've written and pull any ideas or phrases that you can use later.

Think about it: if you have ten minutes to spare, you may be able to get back your passion.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the freewriting blog very much. I plan to go home and put this exercise to use. Thanks for sharing.

Ruth J. Hartman said...


I love the phrase, "Embrace every thought." It gives me something good to think about today when I write.



Jim Harrington said...

A writing prompt was posted to my online critique group that caught my attention, but I couldn't get a grasp on what story might come from it. I finally sat down and started freewriting about the topic, keeping my censor at bay as best I could. After two pages of notes, some further pondering, and a number of rewrites, I'm close to submitting the story for critiques. I find freewriting a great tool for fleshing out a story idea.

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