I’m sitting in a Long Island Rail Road car, getting out of town for a few days, trying to figure out what my column should be about. The week after Labor Day issue I always find myself fried, like many other East Enders. So, rather than trying to pick a topic or muster up an idea, I’ve decided to attempt free form writing — where I let the words pour out of me as I continue, with no direction in mind. Come to think of it, that’s actually a form of therapy.
Growing up — my childhood has its abundant share of stress — my writing teachers always recommended free writing exercises. They suggested that instead of complaining about my life, or keeping my emotions inside, putting pencil to paper would alleviate any negativity or sadness. It was supposed to act like a personal therapist I could tap into at any moment. Beyond physically reading my inner thoughts, a tool for introspection, my creativity actually grew each year I continued to do it. As this column is bound to prove, apparently free form writing does work when faced with a mental block.
Writing always played a critical role in my life. It saved me. I remember, growing up as an only child, I would play with my Barbies and then write stories based on the characters I expressed through them. At age five or six, I wrote my first book. It was 90 pages. I’m pretty sure most of it was gibberish but nonetheless, my mother was impressed. By age 10 or so, I had a different notebook for each form of my writing: personal diary, poems, song lyrics, personal quotes, screenplays, etc.
Before long, being raised in the city, I came across The New York Times and knew I had only one career path. I wanted people to read my words, in their hands, and know my byline. I wanted to tell stories. Fast forward through the grade school writing awards and college degree in journalism, and proof that my dream has been accomplished.
So, why am I disclosing all of this information to you? Why did my subconscious suddenly decide to turn my past into a column? I guess, and this is truly a guess, that I want others to realize the beauty of just being. When we aren’t thinking, when we simply let the present moment play itself out, it’s amazing what happens — and where that moment can lead us. As we all unwind a little, hopefully, maybe try free form writing for yourselves. See where your mind wanders and what your subconscious is trying to tell you. You could end up making a career out of it.