Free writing with Douglas Goestch

I have never felt so liberated.

A few months ago, my compatriot Kathy, at the Rockville Writers Group gushed about this wonderful weekend she had spent in New Hampshire, attending a workshop on Free Writing by Douglas Goestch. She had enjoyed it very much. Her excitement was infectious and within 5 mins the rest of our group wanted to know more about this ‘free writing,’ and all of us wanted to attend the workshop the following year.

Then, thanks to Kathy’s initiative and persistence, we got lucky. Doug kindly agreed to hold a day-long workshop here in MD.

As much as I was looking forward to attending, I was also terrified. Yes, the concept of free writing had me wanting to go hide in a hole somewhere. I sure would not survive the process-picking a random word or phrase from a book or a magazine and then writing about it. All in 5 mins. Nonstop. Yes, you cannot let that pen stop in those 5 mins. I could clearly see myself-staring at the sky, or the table or the cup-mind drawing a blank, until the timer expired. Ah, how I savored the dread. NOT.

I dragged myself to the workshop nonetheless, after a fretful night’s sleep. My fellow attendees arrived one by one, each looking oh so confident and bright. I memorized their faces, this was going to be the audience of my glorious failure.

Doug started at 9AM, armed with a singing bowl timer. We had a moment of silence to clear our minds, and then it began. The first word was ‘river.’ I started with a scrawl and a pause or two later . . . oh boy . . . I had almost filled half the page. It was not great stuff that I had scribbled, but I did something that I totally did not expect my brain to do. It picked up thought after thought, stringing them together, striving to introduce some coherence as they poured out.Fast and furious my ideas and my pen flew, eager to beat the gong. I surprised myself.

It was evening before I knew it. The day had passed swiftly and there I was, sad to leave, wishing the workshop had stretched through the entire weekend. We completed about 8 exercises. I had filled up 8 pages, not all of it was crud. Most important though, was the self-discovery. I could if I tried. I could not have been any happier.

Now a few words about the person who made this wonderful experience possible-Douglas Goestch. Poet, teacher extraordinaire and such a warm and inspiring presence. He made me feel at home right away, always encouraging, respectful, and patient. You can check out his website and contact him there, he also offers one on one sessions should you be interested.

I will be waiting eagerly for another workshop. Until then, I hope to keep on practicing free writing, everyday for 10 mins at least, training my brain to be on its toes.

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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