Last chance to get your pre-order copy of F-R-E-E-Writing: Unblocking Life’s Flow.
It launches Tuesday next, 30th of September.
But you can order your advance copy now — without being charged until it’s dispatched.
F-R-E-E stands for Fast, Raw and Exact-but-Easy and this is a creative practice I’ve been teaching — and practicing myself, of course — for fifteen years now.
Each F-R-E-E-Writing session is a new journey without a map in which you simply write whatever it is you have to say at that moment in time — as fast as you can.
When you write like this, you leave yourself open. You allow the words to rise spontaneously within you, to come and place themselves on the page without interference.
And when we allow words to be written in this way, they have tremendous energy.
You can get your copy here.
And you can also purchase a special notebook designed for your F-R-E-E-Writing here.
From the introduction:
Writing. Who would I be without it? Probably in a twelve-steps programme or taking some very strong medication. The activity of turning words into sentences, stories and poems has made, and kept, me sane and happy for 25 years now.
I know if I hadn’t taken to it as I did during my troubled teens, the side of me that likes to snivel and snark, dramatise and despair would have been given far too much time out in the world. Thanks to writing and F-R-E-E-Writing, I’ve done most of my drama on the page.
All books begin long before the writing starts. This one has its seed in a tiny village in the southeastern corner of Ireland called Murrintown. I grew up there in the 1960s and ‘70s, surrounded by words and stories.
There, as throughout Ireland, the people were great storytellers. I too had things I wanted to say but it was impossible for me to speak them aloud. In those days, in Ireland, public houses didn’t even have a ladies’ toilet because girls and women stayed home and did what they were told by a trinity of frozen institutions: family church and state. The other option, to leave the country, was taken by many.
Ireland’s literature of the forties and fifties is full of them, those silences and ellipses that I felt so keenly. I had nobody I could talk to about such things. My family and friends didn’t seem to see what I saw and speaking meant shyness, blushes, stutters. Writing, on the other hand, felt like freedom and daring. In the blankness of a blank page, you were allowed to think what you thought.
So I took to words.
I loved to read and I loved to write and, once I came into adolescence and started attending a convent boarding school, the notebook was the only place I felt completely at home. I never used the words F-R-E-E-Writing in the days when I filled one orange school copybook after another with my troubles and delights, and hid them in a locked suitcase under my bed, but that’s what I was doing.
Becoming A Writer
Then, around the age of 23, I came across Dorothea Brande’s classic, Becoming A Writer. When I bought this book that stated so very boldly on its cover what I secretly wanted, I used to hide it from friends and family. I could hear the sardonic laughter it would bring on: “You? A writer? Ha! Ha! Ha!”. Brande recommended that if you wanted to be a writer, you should “rise half an hour, or a full hour, earlier than you customarily rise. Just as soon as you can — and without talking…. Write, until you have utterly written yourself out.”
That’s what I did. And with some success. Soon I was earning money from writing, writing feature articles for newspapers and magazines.
Yes, payment! For putting words on paper!
Now I had “real” writing to do: article deadlines to meet.
Then, as I completed an MA and began teaching at the local university, academic papers.
Then, the deepest dream, writing a novel.
I told myself I didn’t have time to F-R-E-E Write. It wasn’t until I started teaching a course called Creative and Imaginative Practice that I thought about F-R-E-E Writing again.
Those classes were filled with MA and PhD Women’s Studies students, intellectually focussed, academically trained and therefore, mostly, creatively blocked and bound. They would have been resistant to Inspiration Meditation and Mindfree Movement, the two other creative release practices I taught, but F-R-E-E Writing could set them free, I thought.
Returning to F-R-E-E-Writing
It was only as I set out to teach it that I realized how long it was since I’d done any myself. As I started again, I was soon decrying my arrogance in letting it lie.
Returning to the F-R-E-E Writing notebook was like meeting an old, wise relative you haven’t seen in far too long. The first thing it told me was that my focus on production, on getting “real” writing done, had, ironically, been retarding my progress, as a writer.
And as a human being.
While I had never suffered writer’s block, F-R-E-E Writing broke through many of what are, in the Go Creative! Books, called ABCDEFs: attitudes, beliefs, concepts, denials, expectations and fears of which I had been blithely ignorant or unconscious.
My novel began to grow in ways that my controlled, writing self could never have accomplished. What was true of the novel was equally true of my own life. Once I did my 20 minutes writing each morning, problems unravelled, situations straightened out, life became infused with a meaning it didn’t have when I neglected to do it.
There’s so much I can write in the F-R-E-E Writing notebook that I can’t write anywhere else. Silly haiku that I’ll never make public; details about my family and friends, thoughts and ideas that make me cringe. In the notebook, I can be playful and frivolous, petty and whiny. My life as a mother and wife and daughter and friend gets its proper prominence, as does my home, my garden, my immediate surroundings, my ever-changing here-and-now..
Having freely written these in the F-R-E-E Writing notebook changes what I write elsewhere.
I’m less inclined to waste pages of a novel sounding off instead of sticking to the story, for example.
But I don’t want to imply that F-R-E-E Writing is only or mainly for writers. Emphatically not. F-R-E-E-writing is writing we do for self, to self, about self, so we can get beyond self.
Creative and Imaginative Practice
What tookF-R-E-E Writing beyond being an author’s activity, for me, was teaching. In 2002, thanks to the insight of Ailbhe Smyth, I began to teach an unusual module at WERRC, the Women’s Studies Department at University College Dublin where she was Director of Studies, called “Creative and Imaginative Practice.” There, I first introduced the method in an academic context to my MA class, with fascinating results.
At that time, WERRC ran a variety of outreach and access programes for women who had been marginalized through various life circumstances: immigration, drug abuse, imprisonment, and so on. In my teaching, I began to use modified and adapted F-R-E-E Writing techniques with women of varying educational and social needs. It became clear that the method could be used to clear not just writer’s block, but psychic bindings and blockages in any life situation.
This simple writing method proved to be a key that opened up physical and emotional health, spiritual awakening, and creative breakthrough. The more I used it, for myself and with others, the more miraculous it seemed.
The evidence I was witnessing with my own eyes was being borne out by research, mainly at the time from the US but now emerging worldwide. (More on this in the chapters ahead and in Teaching F-R-E-E-Writing, a forthcoming Go Creative! book.)
I have passed now on this method to young and old, MA students and returners-to-work, immigrant groups and people recovering from drug addiction, the homeless and the indigent, writing students, writers, and other artists. I have witnessed its benefits among people of both sexes, in many different countries, and at every level of social and personal development, even those with very weak literacy skills. When you are writing for self, spelling and punctuation don’t matter — just one of the ways in which F-R-E-E-Writing is freeing.
The method has made such a difference in my own life that it is now my daily practice. And I have seen it make such a difference in others’ lives that I pass it on whenever I can.
I teach the same simple technique, over and again, without ever tiring of it because my respect for F-R-E-E Writing and my understanding of its complex potential continues to expand and deepen. I’ve come to see it not as a luxury for those with the time to do it but as a simple, significant shortcut to emotional and creative wellbeing. A daily brushing of the psyche that takes a little bit longer – though not much – than a good brushing and flossing of the teeth.
I have come to believe that everybody who can be, should be, F-R-E-E Writing.
If you’d like to start F-R-E-E Writing , go here