This week, spend ten minutes writing a piece of prose or poetry that is your personal answer to the question: ‘What are your Wild Words?’ Don’t think about it, just let your hand write for you. Now, put that piece of paper away and read on…
Often I begin workshops by asking participants ‘what are wild words?’ Immediately, metaphorical hands shoot up. Isn’t it obvious? Wild words are like the tiger, expressive, untamed, and fiery.
But are they? Not always. Because that initial answer is often not our own. Rather, it’s the one that is conditioned into us. It’s a societal view of how we believe our words should behave if we graciously deign to allow them free reign.
And the reason we should be suspicious about our first answer to this question? It’s because the answer is so easy to come up with. In fact, it’s too easy. If we are right, our wild words will rise up all-singing and all-dancing. They will be barefaced shameless, and proud.
However, would the words that are caged within us, really emerge so functional after so long a confinement? At the very least an animal that is caged for a long period of time would come blinking out into the light. And more likely it would cower in the corner of the cage, too terrified to come out at all. And when it did emerge, it would be unsteady on its feet, over-reactive to the bombardment of unfamiliar stimulus it encountered.
Trust me, those words that we really censor, we find it difficult even to think, let alone put down on the page.
Frequently in my psychotherapy practice I see clients who have gaps in their memory, places in which there should be thoughts and words, but in which there are no longer words at all. As writers we can tell when we get close to our wildest words, by the efforts we make to avoid going there. Our bodies and minds change tack urgently. We tune out, cut off, fly away…
So how can we find our own, more authentic answer to today’s question?
Here are some ideas that might help:
- Be patient. Wait for them to emerge in their own time. Don’t rush them, or force them.
- Sit alongside yourself in the process; support the fragile part of yourself.
- Think about what you want to write, what you really, truly want to write, not just what you are used to believing that you want to write.
- Think about what you have to lose by releasing those Wild Words. Bring that into consciousness. How can you ease that fear?
- Ask yourself: What would it mean to allow my words to be just exactly as they are?
If you try this week’s prompt for a second time after reading this article, you might want to compare it to your first effort. How are they different?