Puppies, children and dragons don’t need permission to romp and play, only the freedom to be themselves. Natural writing is like the sound of little girls giggling in their pillow and blanket house.
Natural writing is a warm bakery filled with tantalizing aromas, baking bread, chocolate cakes and plates piled high with cookies. Natural writing is like the colors of autumn, feathery leaves tickling the air as they float to the ground.
Natural writing finds the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks or the toy in a box of cereal. Natural writing is like a kid in a candy store, face pressed to the glass, coins jingling in his fist, maybe this one or that one — completely caught up in the fun of wondering, of choosing, of anticipation.
The inner critic stands stiffly, pulling on the leash, checking his watch with foot tapping impatience. “This is silly. Are we done yet?”
Natural writing sneaks out the garden gate when the inner critic isn’t looking. Natural writing needs no permissions, no premature judgments — only to be allowed to play and to be left alone for a time.
I had no idea I would write this piece until later. I was clustering (in my sketchbook with one of my favorite fountain pens) about metaphor and writing. Clustering leaves the garden gate swinging wide.
Then I played with a short vignette before booting my computer and firing up BrainStorm. I used a segmented list to expand my play. What’s a segmented list? It’s a flat list with fences between each collection of ideas.
Instead of using an outline hierarchy, I used a couple of fences -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= to divide my list. Why? Because it’s easy to see and manipulate ideas when you can focus on the whole and play at the boundaries. The only judgment I made while populating my list was which side of the fence to put each idea on.
I’ll call what I did text clustering. Instead of using pen and paper, I typed each fragment or idea as they occurred to me, without judging. I ended up with a list divided between images of natural writing, inner critic impatience and a few short phrases like permissions, allowing, etc.
BrainStorm allows me to quickly arrange and rearrange my thoughts without resorting to the tedious block moves of a typical word processor or text editor. When I was happy with my phrases and ready to begin writing, I split the BrainStorm window, created a new topic called vignette and expanded my thoughts into paragraphs in the new window while using the list for reference.
Then I used BrainStorm’s write to clipboard to copy my vignette to a fresh file in NoteTab, my text editor. I made a few changes, fixed the paragraphing and fleshed out the article.
I held off my inner critic until I was ready for him, then I invited him to help me organize and finish. I had absolutely no notion of writing this article when I began. I simply left the garden gate open and clustered around the ideas of writing and metaphor (and simile). Don’t allow your inner critic to lock the garden gate. Go out and play. You might be astonished at what happens next.
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