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Free(write) Your Mind

by on May 9, 2014

Often people use freewriting techniques to help them with writer’s block for an upcoming novel or assignment. Well, I have been using freewriting to help me with something I like to call “librarian’s block.” Sorry to disappoint you, but “librarian’s block” is not the cool, underground movement for fellow librarians that you’re probably thinking it is (although we should totally make that happen). “Librarian’s block” is when you have so many ideas for future library programs, potential speakers to get in touch with, projects to work on with colleagues, organizations to get involved with, ways to improve patron service, and continuing education that you don’t know where to begin, much less how to even make these awesome ideas take-off.

That’s how I felt after PLA 2014. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fantastic conference. So fantastic, in fact, that I left feeling extremely inspired and invigorated with all of the planning, programming, staying in touch, organizing, implementing, and creating that I was going to do upon return to my home library…until I actually returned. Then I just felt overwhelmed, like the “how-am-I-actually-going-to-do-all-of-this” feeling. About a year ago, I met someone who told me about freewriting. She explained that you basically just get all of your ideas on paper for about 20 minutes with absolutely no distractions. That means, turning off your cell phone (hard, I know), walking away from TV, and putting yourself in a quiet setting where you can get all of your thoughts and emotions out on paper. It is supposed to help you process your thoughts, ideas, and feelings so that you can be proactive. Northcentral University Writing Center defines “freewriting” as “writing on the topic without stopping or editing. . . Freewriting is the best way to tap into the unconscious thoughts within the mind.” I decided to give it a try.

It was a little weird to freewrite the first time. I didn’t know how to start or even what to write about so I literally wrote “blah blah blah” until something came to mind. But before I knew it, I couldn’t stop writing. I have been freewriting for about a month now and it’s helped my productivity and creative energy at work. First of all, it lets me process all of the things going on in my mind and get it out on paper. That way I am not distracted at work and can focus on the task at hand, because I’ve already addressed those plans and ideas. Secondly, freewriting helps me create an action plan: which projects to work on first and which projects should wait. It even helps me process whether or not a project is worth pursuing, and therefore, I can focus my time and energy on other worthwhile proposals. And ironically, by clearing out my mind, freewriting has given me even more ideas and plans for my position and library. But it doesn’t feel overwhelming—it’s exciting stuff that I welcome because I know that I have better control of my action plan.

Library and Information Science is a constantly evolving field with new technology and concepts. That’s incredible and I feel fortunate to be a part of it. But with all of these new concepts, proposals, ideas, and technology, librarians can feel overwhelmed. Freewriting is helping me embrace 21st century librarianship completely with no reservations. If you’re interested, give it a try and let me know what you think.

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