|Writing course - Lesson 1|
|Getting Started: Freewriting|
|Overcoming Writer's Block|
|FOR MANY STUDENTS AND WRITERS THE WORST PART OF THE WRITING EXPERIENCE is the very beginning, when they're sitting staring at a blank sheet of paper or in front of that unblinking and perfectly empty computer monitor. "I have nothing to say," is the only thing that comes to mind. "I am XX years old and I have done nothing, discovered nothing, been nothing, and there are absolutely no thoughts in my head that anyone would ever want to read about." This is the Censor in your brain, your Self-Critic, and sometimes that Censor is bigger than you are. It might be some comfort to know that even professional writers suffer from Writer's Block from time to time. Some of the greatest writers in literature — Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway — were tormented by momentary lapses in their ability to produce text.|
|So you sit there, thinking how unworthy you are, cursing the day you were born, wondering why you ever went to college, hating the very act of writing. Go ahead and write drivel at first, as long as you write. Out of your nonsense and ramblings, however, believe that something good will come, some idea will catch fire right there on the page, there will be sparks, patterns will emerge. Be willing to throw stuff out. It's all right. Do you think Shakespeare didn't litter his kitchen floor with balled-up pieces of paper?|
|Carry with you a pocket-sized notebook in which you can scribble ideas for writing as they come to you. How often have you been stopped at a red-light and a great idea has come into your head? It's so wonderful that you know you'll remember it when you get home, but when you sit down at the table, pen in hand, all you remember is the fact that you had a good idea an hour ago. Part of the writing experience is learning that good ideas do not always come to us when we need them. We must learn to catch ideas as they come to us, fortuitously, even as we're about to fall asleep at night.|
|People who tell you that physical exercise is important for mental activity are telling the truth. If nothing's happening on the computer screen or paper, take a walk around the block. But take your notebook with you.|
|Another trick is to start in the middle of your writing project. Avoid that problem of getting started by starting on a part of the project that interests you more and then come back to the introductory matter later.|
|Freewriting is an important technique that allows writers to discover content naturally. Freewriting helps you discover your own voice and the things you may have always wanted to say. What is freewriting all about?|
|Write down a topic at the top of that empty page. It can be either a one-word topic - like "Dentists," for example - or a brief statement of the topic you've chosen or been given to write about.|
|Write as fast as you can; the faster the better.
You are not allowed to stop writing!
|If you can't think of anything to say, write down that you can't think of anything to say, something like: "I'm stuck but I'll think of something soon."
|Don't worry about transitions or connecting the ideas or paragraphing or subject-verb agreement or even commas.|
|Form absolutely no judgment about what you write. Your Censor is on vacation. Your writing may take you in some really weird directions, but don't stop and never think to yourself, "Oh, this is dumb!"|
|If you get off the subject, that's all right. Your divagation may end up somewhere wonderful. Just keep writing.
Do not criticize yourself and do not cut or scratch out or revise in any way.
|Write and don’t think.
Freewriting fights anxiety and writer’s block.
|It’s a form of writing like babbling and jabbering. But all this babbling will help you develop criteria to judge your text.|
|Don’t think about grammar.
Be spontaneous and original.
|Freewriting is a connection to the imagination and applies its creative processes.|
|It's probably a good idea to read your freewriting out loud when you're done with it. Often the ear will pick up some pattern or neat idea that you hadn't noticed even as you wrote it.|
|Read your freewriting to a friend or have your friend read it out to you. Your friend might think you're insane, but that's all right.|
|Then it's time to spend just a couple of minutes going through the freewriting with an aim toward casual rewriting: therefore, delete the "I can't think of anything to say" lines and the pure nonsense.|
|Are any ideas or patterns emerging?|
|Don't give up on freewriting after one exercise. Many students think that it's boring or stupid at first and come to love it after a week or so of exercises. Freewriting is like any other kind of mental activity: you will get better at it. The first couple of times you try it, perhaps nothing will come of it. After a few efforts, though, the exercise will become liberating. Just as you would never start to play tennis or jog without stretching a bit first, you will never try to write again without doing a bit of freewriting first. Sometimes, even in the middle of an essay, when stuck for the next idea, you can do a bit of freewriting to get you going again.|
|Here's a five-minute example of free-writing on the subject of working mothers:
(The passage is rather difficult to read because the writer was not worrying about spelling, punctuation, organization; she was simply trying to record her thoughts rapidly in their earliest stages so that she could go back and think about them later.)
|“If a woman is going leave her children in good hands preferably a grandmother or the child father, she should go back to work. Because she will be doing the child some good if this is what she really wants.
What she really wants. What I really wanted was to have the best of care for my child and feel good about whose caring for the baby, there was no reason not to go back to work. Its silly for a single career woman to get married have children then give up career, somebody should have told me that, I wish.
Children look up to their parents. Imitate their actions, so I feel that if he sees his parents as being successful as both parents and career wise they will strive to live up that that standard.”
|Looking back over this paragraph, do you see any ideas that might lend themselves toward an essay on working mothers? Why would one want to become a working mother? How have attitudes towards working mothers changed over the years? Take a blank sheet of paper and start to freewrite about your mother. Is she a working mother? Did you have to meet with greater difficulties than your friends whose mothers stayed home to look after the house and the family? If your mother is a housewife, do you feel happy with the sort of life she has led and does she feel she is completely self-satisfied?|
|Read what you have written to your friend and try to sort out your ideas in a logical sequence.|
|Think of an activity you enjoy when you have time off from university.
What is it?
What do you like about it?
|Don’t write anything for a minute, just picture yourself enjoying this activity. Now write for ten minutes without stopping.
Write down everything that comes into your own head about this leisure time activity.
|Do not miss writing any idea that comes to your mind.
Don’t stop to cancel and correct anything.
If your mind goes blank just write the last phrase over and over again until a new idea and new words come to you.
Wander off your topic and even say terrible things if you feel it may help. Just don’t stop writing.
|Example: A student whose topic was scuba diving started this way:
Scuba diving is exciting you’re in a whole new world underwater. Like like outer space. Cant here anything exept my own breathe
Notice he hasn’t stopped to correct spelling and punctuation.
|Now read out what you have written to your friend sitting next to you.|
|There is evidence to support the concept that despite the haphazard ideas seen in student's freewritings, there are underlying organizational aspects to these writings, which if the student analyses fully, he discovers that in the midst of his ramblings or venting of emotions, lies a focused idea that can be developed and expanded to aid in the production of an academic paper.|
|Thinking is divided into two stages. In the first stage thinking is intuitive and creative and does not strive for conscious direction or control. In the second stage thinking is committed to accuracy and strives for logic and control. First stage thinking is used when we write fast without censoring and let the words lead us to associations and intuitions we had not foreseen. This type of thinking is obviously related to freewriting. Second stage thinking is what most people have in mind when they talk about critical thinking because this type of thinking aims at creating a logical sequence of ideas. Freewriting fosters critical thinking skills. These skills refer to the ability to think critically about one's own thinking, feelings and beliefs and a willingness to evaluate ideas and arguments. Freewriting can aid in eliminating the writer's block. Many students seem to have a difficult time getting started on a paper, but once they manage to get themselves writing in an exploratory but uncensored fashion, the ongoing string of language and syntax itself becomes a lively and surprising force for generation. Words call up words, ideas call up more ideas. This idea of “words calling up words, and ideas calling up more ideas,” pertains to critical thinking. Once a student begins writing about a topic, he will inevitably begin to perform some type of analysis, whether or not he is consciously aware of what he is doing.|
|So freewriting fosters critical thinking skills which entail automatically certain organizational guidelines. The same piece of writing can be both 'chaotic' and 'coherent' because not everyone shares the same definition of organized. Anyway organization in style and language is always predetermined or presupposed by the writer even when he freewrites.|
|Frewriting can help students develop thinking skills in three way: first, through freewriting, students can discover all the aspects of a topic relevant for examination; second, the students are able to examine these aspects in detail and from varying points of view; third, the students are able to see what patterns emerge and then draw conclusions based on these patterns. First stage thinking (freewriting) often brings out people's best and most intelligent thinking.|
|WRITING ACTIVITY EXERCISE|
The Bauhaus style: an example of a Germanic revolutionary school in architecture.
|Al-Keleyye Private High School, built in the Bauhaus style.|
|“The Bauhaus school was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. In spite of its name, and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus did not have an architecture department during the first years of its existence. Nonetheless it was founded with the idea of creating a 'total' work of art in which all arts, including architecture would eventually be brought together. The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design. The Bauhaus had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.
The school existed in three German cities (Weimar from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933), under three different architect-directors: Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1928, Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930 and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1930 until 1933, when the school was closed by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime.
The changes of venue and leadership resulted in a constant shifting of focus, technique, instructors, and politics. For instance: the pottery shop was discontinued when the school moved from Weimar to Dessau, even though it had been an important revenue source; when Mies van der Rohe took over the school in 1930, he transformed it into a private school, and would not allow any supporters of Hannes Meyer to attend it.”