By Michelle Mclean
‘Another notebook?’ my friend rolled her eyes as I ran my fingers over the soft covers. We were in a quirky gift shop and I had naturally gravitated towards the stationary section.
Later that day I put my new purchase in a cupboard alongside the rest of the stationary I’ve collected over time. There’s quite a lot in there but I’m not saving it for best, notebooks are a staple item for me and they’ll all be used eventually.
I have separate notebooks for ideas, lists, fiction projects and journaling amongst other things. I finish at least one notebook every month and I never throw them away. Some I revisit, some I’ll pass on to my children when they are older and others…well, close friends have been instructed to burn them should I depart this mortal coil prematurely.
Sure, apps are cool but have you ever cracked the spine on a brand new notebook and felt your pen nib glide across the first page? So satisfying. Plus, writing something by hand commits it to my memory in a way that typing doesn’t.
I own some lovely, luxury notebooks. However, my go-to is the, rather boring, Moleskine Cahier Collection (Kraft, in extra-large for the connoisseurs amongst you). You see, the thing with beautiful notebooks is that I feel under pressure to write perfectly. The simplicity of the Kraft notebook means that I can allow myself to scribble, cross out and doodle with abandon. Plus it folds-flat which any writer will tell you is a MUST. It is this notebook that I use for my daily free writing.
Free writing is writing without structure or intent. It is allowing thoughts and ideas to emerge of their own accord and capturing them without any edit or control. The technique can unleash a flow creativity.
At the start of each day, usually before I’ve even swung my legs out of bed, I free write. Sometimes for five minutes, sometimes for thirty. I just scrawl whatever comes up, before my brain has a chance to catch up with the fact that I’ll shortly have to start adulting.
Without the distraction of noise and notifications my mind is free to wander and I am at my creative best. It’s a slither of time that is just for me and it sets me up for a great day.
Sometimes I use what I’ve written, returning to it later to shape it into something. A poem, a story, a letter perhaps. But most of the time, it’s just a creative dustbin where I offload so that the good stuff lurking underneath can emerge.
Freewriting is probably the single best thing in my daily self-care practise and I highly recommend it. When you wake tomorrow, reach for your pen not your phone and let it unlock the day’s possibilities.