Art School Teacher: On Free Writing

I always have trouble with the last class.  I want the semester to wrap up with a bang, but usually have no idea how to do that.  A student lounging in the hall with a friend asks what are we going to do this week in creative habit class. She is clearly concerned. I ask her what she would like to do. She says she would like to meditate.

When I tell the class that's why we are going to meditate, they groan.  I invite them to sit tall, to close their eyes.  We follow the breath, up and down, in and out, and then we imagine floating.

After the meditation, I invite them to free write.

After, we discuss.

One student says she didn't float, but just imagined flopping onto her bed.  Another says she had so much to free write that there was no way she could get it all down so she didn't write anything.  The one with ADHD says that meditation is torture. Another says he was definitely bored, that he had a long week and is really stressed out.

"Did you find that it was relaxing or stressful to just sit there and be bored?"


I should ask why that is.  But instead I inquire about a student who hasn't been to class for weeks.

"Oh, she moved," they say.

"Really?  I didn't know."

"She told us."

And then the bell rings before everyone has a chance to share.

And then, the semester is over.

It isn't until I am biking home that I begin to hazily recall the student telling me she was moving and that we chatted about it and I wished her all the best.

Though perhaps, I am just imagining it.

Now we are free writing and some have dove in and now the student who I caught peeking at me during the meditation asks to use the restroom.  

I told them if they get stuck just start writing the alphabet, like Lynda Barry, a, b, c, d, e, f until their minds take off again, free writing as a way to investigate the monkey mind.  

It is difficult maybe for them to see the value in this type of exercise and then I too wonder; is this just silliness and not a good way to really learn to write?  But the writing comes from somewhere and to practice bringing it forth can not be a bad thing, though that doesn't even make sense.  It can't be good or bad, but only a way to practice. Right?

This creative habit class is a real mystery to me because half of them seem to be totally into it and the other half totally not into it and some who are both. 

Is there value in 15 minutes of meditation followed by 40 minutes of free writing, drawing, spacing out, being bored? 

Why am I stuck on this?

Why am I so concerned that some of the students are bored? At least three have stopped writing. Yet another has left for the restroom.  If I had introduced it in a different way, would they be more into it?

How much time do I leave for discussion at the end?

If I stop them too early, we might run out of things to talk about.  If I stop them too late, we'll be cut off in the middle.  Which is worse?  

There were other things I wanted to free write about, like the trip to San Fransisco.  

Why did I have them meditate sitting in chairs which made them unbearably sleepy?  

Would I be a better writer if I never free wrote? 

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