In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg writes about the importance of writing first thoughts.
To write first thoughts means to write without editing. To not control what you write. It’s about not avoiding what wants to come out, out of fear or judgement, but just letting the thoughts be.
So turn off the internal censor because the internal censor tries to control thoughts and changes them into safe second thoughts.
When you write your first thoughts, you face yourself and you can be okay with yourself. Natalie’s book tells me that if I can’t write my first thoughts, then I can’t be myself.
It showed me that I live in the realm of second, third and fourth thoughts. Thinking about thinking. Analysing my thinking. Judging and criticising my thinking. So I end up with safe, controlled, edited thoughts.
This doesn’t allow me to just be me. Instead, my internal censor rules me and all I present is the edited version of me to the world. This will always make me feel frustrated.
I see the value in writing first thoughts and I think I need to write them if I’m ever going to accept myself. But I know writing them is scary. It’s scary to face yourself. And even though I’m most real in writing, I know there are still some things I can’t be real about even when I write. I know I need to go there though.
Writing is my path to know myself and accept myself.
It’s just a matter of pushing through the fear and turning off the judgement. It’s about forgetting the expectations and social politeness and just writing what is. This type of writing shows the mind just as it is.
Yep, I want to go there.
To write first thoughts is a practice. Writing practice. Go there. Keep writing through the trash that comes out, through the emotions, the tears, the mess. It’s about getting to a place of pure expression and being purely yourself.
You must be a warrior to write these first thoughts. Fight through it all to get to the truth. That’s the discipline. That’s the aim.
I guess first thoughts is the equivalent to Julia Cameron’s morning pages in her book The Artist’s Way. In this practice, the idea is to write first thing in the morning every day.
One of my favourite writers Allison Fallon swears by morning pages. She says they’re like the boring plane ride to get to a destination. The stuff we write in the morning pages and first thoughts is like trash, but it shows who we are and that will help us write the gems later. Because now we know who we are and we are okay with ourselves on the page, instead of ourselves getting in the way and distracting us from writing. Now we can know and say what we want to say.
So it’s scary and hard, but I’m going to give this first thoughts thing a go. To persist with it is the writer’s practice.