The Page a Day Writers Group

For the Love of Cobwebs

Posted on: December 8, 2009

Whenever I feel stuck, I go back to free-writing. What a way to harness transformative power.

I’m still grateful to my 10th grade English teacher, Mrs. Nichols, who gave us permission to free-write. “Write anything you want,” she would say, for 1o minutes a day in class as a way to clear the cobwebs and warm up our writing muscles. It was amazing and beautiful to me that an authority figure recognized the value of unstructured writing, allowing us to use valuable class time for “clearing the cobwebs.”

 Free-writing is a form of meditation if we allow it to be. Just let the thoughts flow from heart and mind through pen or keyboard.

 Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) recommends writing Morning Pages, three pages of free-writing, every day as meditation.

In Becoming a Writer Dorothea Brande advises harnessing the unconscious by writing immediately upon waking- as in sit up in bed and start writing. Wake up half an hour earlier and begin. Before coffee, before newspaper, before saying a word. “Write anything that comes into your head…, any sort of morning reverie, rapidly and uncritically,” Brande says. Ray Bradbury mentions Becoming a Writer as very helpful, by the way, and I agree.

Ray Bradbury believes in making lists using free association. He began to see that his lists related to loves and hates; “…these words that I had simply flung forth on paper, trusting my subconscious to give bread, as it were, to the birds” (Zen in the Art of Writing). He uses these lists as fodder for stories, poems and essays. Bradbury says (Zen in the Art of Writing) “…lists, dredged out of the lopside of your brain might well help you discover you…”

I just found  which provides inspiration for free writing in a fabulous (and free) newsletter and more depth on the rationale, if you need more convincing.

After a free write session I feel more focused, and always have many more ideas than when I started. I can stash all these ideas in my idea notebook and then a) get back to the story at hand or b) start a new story sparked by a new idea.

Sometimes I might freewrite about a story in process- let my mind vent a hundred “what ifs” about a character who’s giving me trouble. Or maybe I’ll scribble down a nightmare and follow the thread to see how it may be connected to my life. Or just random thoughts that wander into my head. It all has value in clearing cobwebs, which then allows me to work more deeply on my writing projects afterwards.

So jump into this unstructured discipline! Be free and reap the benefits.

Ondine Brooks Kuraoka


1 Response to "For the Love of Cobwebs"

I feel you, Ondine. I think that’s why I enjoy my jounaling time so much. I can write whatever I want – no word count to keep track of; no editing :); and no deadlines…it’s a beautiful thing.


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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!


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