Just Write It

I’m taking a writing class this winter (an on-line writing class for parents! the perfect thing!), and have rediscovered the joys of freewriting. I used to make my composition students freewrite all the time, and I’d use the time to prep class, often finding something new to say myself. But freewriting for my own writing… somehow I never took the time for it before. Lo and behold (several freewrites into this thing), I find the seeds of several new essays.

I’m also, inspired by my classmates, trying to keep better track of what I read about writing. Here’s a quote I pulled from a recent New Yorker profile of Jasper Johns. He’s talking about painting, of course, but it still applies: you can always find reasons not to work, you can sit and plan and think for ages and never set pen to paper (or in Johns’ case, brush to canvas). But see what happens when you turn the internal editor off and just set to work.

Part of working, for me, involves anxiety. A certain amount of anxiety, or hesitation, or boredom. Frequently, I think for a long time before I do something, even though I’ve decided over the years that this is absolutely pointless. Actually, when one works, one comes to a solution much more quickly than when one sits and thinks.

So now I’m off to work.


  1. Violeta says:

    Caroline, we’re on the same wavelength today. I spent my day inventing new dishes so I wouldn’t have to work on the essay I want to present for my workshop piece. I’m writing it in my mind, in circles, and part of me is afraid to actually sit down and write it. You’re right though, we arrive at a solution much faster when we stop living in our minds and actually write through it. I’ll be doing that tomorrow!

  2. Susan says:

    That’s a brilliant quote, and so true. I think that is why classes with deadlines, or events like NanoWrimo can really work – it cuts through all the reasons not to work. I’m off to work myself, too…

    AND: yes, hooray for freewrites. I love them.