Lesson 2 – The Warm Up

Find Your True Calling In Life

Lesson 2

The Warm Up


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Theory

The Process

Finding your Calling is a process of introspection and it’s not something you can do in 5 minutes. Part of the process involves learning to use the tool needed to extract bits of important information from your mind.

Some of these bits of information have not seen the light of day in years, if not decades. (You will dig them up like miners mining in a mine for minerals ūüôā )

In this lesson I will show you the main tool you will need for extracting these important pieces of your puzzle.

 

The Best Tool For Mining Your Mind

The best tool, by far, that I have found for playing in the playground of your mind is… writing. But not just any writing; the kind that will extract a truck load a lot of information from your mind.

At this point, I suspect that some of you are happy about the prospect of using writing as a tool¬†while some of you are not so happy because you haven’t written anything of consequence in a long time.

I completely understand and I don’t want you to worry. Let me reassure you that you won’t be writing for publication and no one will see it. In fact, I strongly recommend that you don’t share your writings from this course.

Not only because it’s personal but also because by knowing that no one will see your writing, you will allow yourself to be more open and honest.

 

Write To Figure It Out

For many people, the process of writing is like going to the gym, not necessarily enjoyable.  The energy barrier to overcome to sit down and write can be very high.

This was the case for me for a long time until I discovered that I would rather pay the price of the discomfort of writing than the price of stagnation and not knowing.

By far, nothing has improved my quality of mind more than writing on a daily basis (well, almost on a daily basis).

I had put off writing for years and now I regret not having started sooner. I ask myself, if I had started writing years ago… where would my life be right now?

You will learn more about yourself from writing than from anything else. Writing is like having a personal and honest conversation with yourself.

 

Sometimes you have to write to figure it out‚Ķ¬†You don’t have to know exactly what you want to say before starting to write. Writing is a way to figure out what you are thinking, what you want to say. ~ Daniel Pink

 

Freewriting

The technique that I will teach you in this lesson is called freewriting. It’s how I got started in writing.

I never considered myself a writer because, well, I never wrote. But now I am addicted to writing and I attribute it to this one technique.¬†I first encountered freewriting in Mark Levy’s book Accidental Genius.

For me, freewriting, has been the most effective technique to extract deeply-rooted information within my mind.

 

The Chain Of Ideas

Something weird happens when freewriting is used to extract from your mind an idea that was previously buried.

You see, ideas in the mind are attached together. So one idea will pull out another one and that idea will pull out yet another.

The chain¬†of ideas may¬†not necessarily make sense to you but they are, nonetheless, somehow connected together and more importantly, connected to you. And that’s the interesting part.

 

What Is Freewriting?

Here’s a Wikipedia-adapted definition of freewriting:

“Freewriting is based on a presumption that, while everybody has something to say and the ability to say it, the mental wellspring may be blocked by apathy, self-criticism, resentment, anxiety about deadlines, fear of failure or censure, or other forms of resistance.

The accepted rules of freewriting enable a writer to build up enough momentum to blast past blocks into uninhibited flow…

Freewriting is all about loosening and limbering the thought process, not about a product or a performance for a student or a writer.

The technique involves continuous writing, usually for a predetermined period of time (often five to fifteen minutes). The writer writes without regard to spelling, grammar, etc., and makes no corrections.

If the writer reaches a point where they can’t think of anything to write, they write that they can’t think of anything, until they find another line of thought.

The writer freely strays off topic, letting thoughts lead where they may.

At times, a writer may also do a focused freewriting, letting a chosen topic structure their thoughts. Expanding from this topic, the thoughts may stray to make connections and create more abstract views on the topic. This technique helps a writer explore a particular subject before putting ideas into a more basic context.”


Practice

This lesson is dedicated to learning to use and master freewriting.

Freewriting Rules

It doesn’t matter what method of writing you choose. You can write with pen and paper or on the computer. All methods are good so use your favourite. I prefer to use a computer keyboard because I can type faster than I can hand-write and I feel more aligned with the flow of my thoughts.

Here are the six rules of freewriting that Mark Levy describes in the first chapter of his book Accidental Genius. For clarity, I have used my own wording and added three more rules.

  1. Go easy
  2. Give yourself a strict time limit
  3. Write quickly and non-stop
  4. Pay no attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, neatness, or style
  5. Do not use the backspace key (or cross out)
  6. Write the way you think & be honest
  7. Go where your thoughts take you
  8. Ask yourself questions
  9. At the end, scan for diamonds

 

1. Go Easy

Don’t try hard. In fact don’t give 100% effort. Don’t try to write anything wise, poetic, intelligent, coherent.

Instead, be relaxed and go easy.

 

2. Give Yourself A Strict Time Limit

Give yourself a time limit. You must use some type of alarm, something that will make a noise at the end of the time. I use a Chrome browser extension called Timer but anything with an alarm will do, e.g. kitchen timer, smartphone, etc.

I recommend you set your alarm for between 5 and 20 minutes. If you are new to writing and freewriting, then start with 5 minutes and gradually extend.

After the time limit, stop writing. If you feel that you are on a roll and want to continue, then set the timer and start writing again. Always set a time limit when doing freewriting.

 

3. Write Quickly & Non-Stop

Don’t write at your normal speed, write faster. Write as if you are in a hurry but not stressed. Write as fast as your hands want to move. Write quickly.

Keep your hands moving until the alarm rings. Don’t pause, don’t stare away and don’t read what you wrote.

What do you do when you run out of ideas? You continue to write! You can write nonsense…

I often end up write “bla, bla, bla, bla,¬†bla, bla, bla, bla,¬†bla, bla, bla, bla,¬†bla, bla, bla, bla” until a new idea pops into my mind.

Sometimes I write the following “I don’t know what else to say, I don’t know what else to say” until a new idea pops into my mind.

Or you can repeat the last word you wrote. It doesn’t matter what you write as long as you continue to move your hands.

 

4. Pay No Attention To Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation, Neatness Or Style

The title says it all: “Pay No Attention To Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation, Neatness Or Style”.

What you write is not for publication and no one will ever see it except you.

I will say it again, do not pay attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, neatness or style.

The quality of your writing is not important, rather it’s the¬†dumping of ideas from mind to screen (or to paper).

 

5. Do Not Use The Backspace Key

Do not correct your typos. That’s right, do not use the backspace key. This will be difficult and frustrating at first because you are accustomed to instinctively correcting mistypes.

In freewriting, correcting typos is to be avoided because it will interfere with the flow of your thoughts and distract you from writing. You simply don’t need to correct typographical errors.

 

6. Write The Way You Think & Be Honest

Use the language that’s in your head. No need to try to sound like someone else.¬†Also don’t try to find the perfect¬†word that will make your sentence “just right”; just write!

Freewriting is not writing per se, but a free-flowing conversation with yourself.

Be honest with yourself. In fact, force yourself to be honest. There is no use in lying to yourself. Remember you are having a conversation with yourself, not with anyone else.

Forcing yourself to be honest will break the barrier that your EGO has put up to prevent you from harm in society. While freewriting, you are not in society.

Be judgmental, opinionated, make associations. As soon as a new idea pops into your mind, write about it.

After being judgmental and opinionated, ask yourself what is causing that judgment and write about that.

 

7. Go Where Your Thoughts Take You

Pay attention to what you think. When your mind wanders, follow it and write about it. Don’t try to control the thought process. Your job is to be the observer of your thoughts. Like a journalist, observe and objectively write about it.

I will often end up writing “… oh and this reminds me of …” and continue to freewrite.

You can also write about the same topic from a different perspective. Feel free to explore different perceptions of the same idea.

 

8. Ask Yourself Questions

When you ask questions to yourself, you open new avenues for investigation.

Make sure to actually write the question itself, e.g. “why do I think about¬†this?” or “where did this come from?”

Questions can occur in two situations in freewriting: 1) questions can come up naturally while investigating an idea and 2) you purposely force yourself to ask a question in order to change the direction of flow. Both are good.

If something is bothering you, then ask yourself why and write about that.

 

9. At The End, Scan For Diamonds

When the alarm rings you must stop. Now for the first time, look over what you just wrote and highlight (underline or make bold) words or passages that contain ideas or phrases, that for some reason, are important to you. These are the words that seem to jump up at you. These are the diamonds in the rough.

Don’t try to over-analyze why¬†these words or phrases are important, just highlight them.

At this point, you must continue to resist the urge to correct typographical errors.

If you feel the need to elaborate on them then reset the clock and start freewriting again. Or you can keep it for another freewriting session.

This practice of finding these diamonds will be critical in Lesson 3 so make sure to practice it.

 

Exercise 2.1 – Freewrite!

Make sure you know the 9 rules, set a timer and start freewriting.

How to start? Just write about the first thing you become aware of in your mind. It’s really that simple, but it does mean that you must pay attention to what you are thinking about.

Start with five minutes but feel free to add more minutes as you become more proficient at it. 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 12 minutes, 15 minutes, etc are all good.

Repeat this exercise at least twice a day for the next 5 days. You can do it once in the morning and once before bed time. You can do it as many times as you wish throughout the day.

At this point, don’t try to guide the freewriting, just let it flow. Later in Lesson 3, we will use freewriting in a more surgical way to pull out important pieces of your puzzle.

 


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3 thoughts on “Lesson 2 – The Warm Up

  1. Hi Araz,

    This will be difficult. I fall under the not going to like this task group, largely because of what is mentioned in the wiki-article. However, I did just buy The Artists Way that also talks about doing this….

    Under typos:
    Section 6: Don’t try to find the RIGHT word
    Section 7: the same topic from a different PERSPECTIVE
    Section 9: diamond in the ROUGH (may be ruff though…)

    Thanks. John.

    1. Hi John,
      I know exactly how you feel. It was also very difficult for me to start the writing process. But today, I regret not having started sooner, much sooner… like in my childhood. I plan on teaching my pre-teen daughters about this technique this summer because I believe that it’s that powerful and it can have a dramatic impact on their lives.

      I’m afraid to tell you that Lesson 3 goes deeper with focused freewriting on targeted topics. It’s going to be important to have the ability to extract information from the mind… whether using freewrting or something else.

      For me, freewriting was the easiest way to sit down and write. The rules made it, somehow, easier compared to writing per se. Surprisingly, the time limit was a great motivator…

      I recommend to try it at least a few times and then decide if you want to continue or not. I know it’s not easy at first…

      What aspect or freewriting are you having a difficult time with? Maybe I can help?

      Araz
      ps. I have heard many good things about that book…
      pps. thank you for the typos.

  2. Hi Araz and John

    I finished the Artists Way about among ago and I now write at least three pages every morning and wouldn’t dream of missing a day. I actually prefer not to write with time limits as it makes me anxious. It reminds my playing Scattergories as a kid and I hated the loud buzzer and stress of not being able to think of enough words. So I limit myself by pages if anything at all. I also really struggle to not correct my mistakes, but I keep working on it. I write by hand for this and this helps I think although I cannot read it back as its so messy. So I did lesson 3 on computer.

    Anyway, I think it’s good for people who have t done any of this kind if writing before to have a clear process to follow.

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