5 Freewriting Questions for Reflecting on New Beginnings (with poetry)
The 5 questions included in the freewriting portion of this writing exploration are inspired by poetry; they require your imagination, as well as your willingness to wander without a goal or a plan.
Before beginning to write, try offering yourself a mindfulness practice as a way of releasing expectations, and connecting with yourself and your body. Use your own mindfulness practice, or try the following Breathexperience practice…
Suggestion: read the following prompts and then set a timer for 15 minutes. These prompts are suggestions, rather than instructions. Engage in this practice in a way that feels good to you.
- Begin by sitting, with your feet hip distance apart. Sense your feet on the ground and your sitz bones in the chair. Invite an awareness of your breath.
- Move your feet along the floor. Sense the texture of the floor with your toes, your heels, the roof of a foot, etc. Eventually return your feet to a place of stability under your knees.
- Place your hand on your core (the space above your navel), and notice the very simple sensation of the movement of your breath underneath your hand. Allow your breath to come and go on its own.
- Explore your experience of sitting. Shift your weight forward until you feel weight in your feet. Shift your weight back, and allow yourself to rest in a bit of slouching position (your spine in a c-curve). Take a moment after each movement to rest, and then notice how the movement of your breath may support as you return to what feels like centre. Eventually, invite more freedom into this exploration.
- Offer yourself any movements or stretches that you’re especially craving. Be gentle. Rest after each movement (big or small) and notice how your breath responds.
- Return to your starting position. Place your hand on your core. Let your breath come and go on its own. Notice what’s changed.
Move from here into the freewriting exercise.
Free Writing Prompts
Give yourself 3–5 minutes per question to freewrite. Follow the movement of your thoughts, wherever that movement takes you. Notice when you’re getting distracted or feel like there is nothing else to say. Sit with the sensation which accompanies the thought ‘I’m finished’, and allow for the possibility that you’ll be carried past it.
Suggestion: Read one question at a time. Try not to plan ahead.
- Where are the doors that lead towards your vision of the future? Which doors are now, finally, open to you? (although… perhaps they have been open all along).
- Describe yourself opening and walking through one of those doors.
You could describe the discovery of the door (and what it looks like); the state of the door and its hinges; the movement and effort needed to open it; the sensations that follow as you walk through it.
- What’s on the other side of this door? Wander through the landscape you’ve walked into, and describe your discoveries like an abstract painting.
What textures, shapes, colours, movements, patterns, do you see? Allow the image of the painting to unfold slowly, describing it as it takes shape within your imagination.
- If you’re “waiting / for your life to show you some better thoughts…”* What are the better thoughts you’re waiting for? What is perfect about the thoughts (perhaps recurring) that are part of your experience right now?
5. What happens next? How do you find stillness within the movement of your own becoming? How do you stand within the dream of your life, and breathe?
* the quote included in question 4 is from ‘You Reading this be Ready‘ by William Stafford. Read the full poem, here.
A Quote to Consider:
“There is a door between the logical and intuitive worlds, and we must put a smooth hinge on it, and let it swing, because this is the only way we can properly live: to acknowledge the mutuality of both the rational and intuitive inside us, the methodological and the instinctive, the waking and the dream.”
— Molly Peacock, How to Read a Poem… and Start a Poetry Circle
Optional Poetry Writing Practice
What is a poem? Authors have defined poetry in so many different ways*. I love thinking about poetry as a way of being playful with language. Poetry is your playground to be imaginative, to try things, and to speak those personal truths that can find their voice in no other way.
Suggestion: Set a timer for 15–20 minutes. Use that time as a container to write a poem that brings together everything you’ve been exploring. To write your poem, you could try piecing together the writing you did during the freewriting exercise, or push all of that aside and start fresh.
Write one line at a time. Try not to rush. Enjoy the discomfort and elation being creative can bring.
Here’s one final piece of advice / quote that I love:
“She has said that when she writes the first line of a poem, she does not know what the second line will be; each line, image, or segment gives rise to what follows in a subconscious process over which she tries not to exercise control.”
– From the forward to ‘Walking on a Washing Line: Poems’ by Kim Seung-Hee (translated by Brother Anthony and Hyung-Jin Lee)
I hope you enjoy this writing exploration.
*For the last several years, I’ve been on a bit of treasure hunt: searching for definitions of poetry by poets, fiction writers, linguists, psychologists, and more. I’ve started using Instagram to share this growing collection. You can find it here (but please don’t let this foot-note distract you. If you were preparing to start this ritual, remember that Instagram is a black-hole of distraction. Return to this later).