The first time I sat in the beach hut and stared out, I felt all the stresses of the day disappear. It was gorgeously sunny, the sea was postcard blue, and there seemed no better place to be. I’ve been down here almost every day, and this first week I’ve been focussing on listening to the quietness around me, letting all the brain chatter we carry around fade away.
I’ve been doing a lot of free writing, a favourite of mine. You take a random line of poetry, write it down, and when you get to the end just keep writing, don’t stop for 10, 15, 20 minutes – for however long you decide in advance. If you don’t know what to write, just write out the line again, and again, and again if necessary – until your pen starts to write something different. The idea is to try and disengage your brain, at least that annoying overly critical part of it anyway. This week I’ve found myself in a trance-like state at times, just watching the words appear on the page.
Most of the stuff I end up with is random rubbish, half of it doesn’t make any sense at all, but sometimes, every now and then, you get a spark, feel that little lurch in your gut when a phrase feels right, or there’s a tiny kernel of an idea emerging. Allowing your brain to wander in this way can generate ideas that may not have appeared otherwise.
My aim for this time I have been given in the hut is to make my critical editor shut up for a while – its been very vocal recently and has stopped a lot of my writing. I’m going to concentrate on using different methods to generate poetry, and focus on getting as many first drafts as possible. While I’m here, I want to use this space for ideas, rather than polishing and editing – I can do that later. There’s something quite liberating about deliberately not looking for a finished piece.