Have you heard of the 750 word writing exercise? It was first introduced by Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way. The premise is simple: every morning as you wake up, grab a notebook and fill it with 750 words of writing on …whatever it is that your mind wants to say at that point. The prose is not meant to be profound, or even good. It is not meant to be re-read by you, and is certainly not meant to be read by anyone else. The idea is that it is a “brain dump”. It frees your brain to deal with other things, and it lets your subconscious loose. Everyone that I know who has tried it swears by it. It quickly becomes a habit, and apparently it works wonders.
I read Cameron’s book eons ago, and loved the 750 word concept then. But despite being completely sold on it, I never implemented it. Yet, I often think about it. Recently, I was at the Exclusive Books counter and I saw a copy behind the cash register. Unfortunately it was reserved for someone else. But, serependitiously, I also re-joined the library that week (in a feeble attempt to kickstart Zac’s love for books), and …there was the book on the library shelf. I took it, and returned it over 3 weeks late.
To be honest, I did not actually read the book. I simply skimmed the chapter on the 750 word concept (the book is slightly too religious for my liking) and…did not do much more about it. Certainly, I did not write any 750 brain dumps. But the inkling remained.
And here we are. It is Sunday night, and there is a lot going on in my life right now. Not good, or bad…just…different. Change is coming. I don’t like it. And as I sit on my bed pondering the week ahead…I want to write. I want to blog. I want to be able to dump what’s on my mind, and move on.
Problem is, when you haven’t touched your blog in months, opening up the computer to write is a bit like opening a brand new notebook…rather intimidating. That first post after a long absence (even though I know, deep down, that almost no one ever reads this blog anyway) feels like it should be …important? Well thought out? At the very least interesting.
But I don’t want to write to those limitations. I want to treat my blog the way I used to treat Twitter a long (looong) time back: an opportunity to have a somewhat one-sided conversation with an imaginary audience who willingly listens to my chatter. I don’t want to have to write good blog posts every time I want to write. I just want the freedom to write. But also not in obscurity, aka some random notebook stuffed under my bed when not in use.
You can probably see where I am going with this: this blog of mine, the one that I have created, killed and resurrected over and over again, but which refuses to leave me permanently, it will have to serve as the blank notebook of mine. I shall dump my thoughts here, and you (dear reader) will oftentimes roll your eyes on squint in puzzlement at the nonsense I have written. But you will come back, because that is our deal, and because you are imaginary anyway, and therefore kind of obligated to bid my command.
This arrangement works out well. I shall never again (starting with today) apologise for not writing for a long time. But at the same time, since the expected standard of the writing will now be at a level of goblybydook, I will be free to whip up something quickly and effectively. Dump my brain, and move on with my day. I might even, on some easy or difficult days, write more than once. I am already becoming addicted to this one-sided dialog in my head.
And by the way, see what I did there? After a long absence on this blog, I have easily slipped back into it. Indeed, there is nothing profound, or interesting to be said, but it has been said nevertheless, and now the brain is open to saying even more. And maybe, as we get to know each other better through the informal but always sincere writing that you will find here, we will actually begin to chat. Like, really chat. You’ll leave a comment, and I will respond. And my audience will spur me on 🙂
Oh, wow. That paragraph ended on exactly 750 words (before minor editing). Perfect timing. See you next time!
(May 2020 update: Another “wow” post. I wrote it as Craig was preparing to leave our house. I knew he would probably never come back, or at least not for a long time. It was heart breaking. I did not really write much on the blog about this, because its a raw emotion, that affects more than just me. In January, things got even worse…I realised that we had probably lost him for good. And so I started doing something I advocated in this post: I started writing the 750 words each morning, on physical paper. It helped immensely. And now all is good. Or at least much, much better. Time.)