Writing in the Wilderness
Electronic writing encourages the habit of quick, easy-to-produce content that can be belted out in a matter of minutes. However, imagine what life might have been like 100 years ago for a freelancer content writer with no laptop, smartphone, tablet, desk computer or anything else that displayed documents in a digital format. There was the pen and the typewriter and no more. It’s a scary thought.
That being said, sometimes writing like Henry David Thoreau can be liberating. Thoreau lived as a famous naturalist and writer in America until his death in 1862. One of his most famous works, Walden, was written in isolation; Thoreau literally removed himself to a forest to isolate his mind and writing.
While quality writing doesn’t mean you have to live as a hermit for a year, it doesn’t hurt to occasionally return to what writing is really all about, without the help of the digital tools we’ve grown so accustomed to. The approach is simple:
- Locate a place where there is no electricity, no wall plugs, and no communication tools. The outdoors tend to work pretty well for this first step.
- Leave behind all cell phones, tablets and mobile devices for writing.
- Bring a notepad or folder with paper and a good, foldable chair.
- Go to the location, sit, and get comfortable.
- Now write.
Many people will find that, for the first hour or two, this task might prove easier said than done. However, once past this point, a surprise will happen. The writing will start to come out. Then the brain, which is so fond of organization, will exert itself and force structure to happen to the writing. Sure, some efforts might just feel like they’re in vain—but practice improves the output. Separating from our electronic tools on a regular basis gives the creative side of our brains a vacation from exile. The imagination gets to work again, and our dusty handwriting skills get put to use.
However, the most important benefit of taking a momentary, personal Thoreau trip is that we get to realize what writing is all about again. Freelancing too often means writing for someone else, but writers still need the creative side to make their product powerful and stand apart from others. A good run in the wilderness can sometimes be just the medicine for electronic doldrums.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.