Nafissa Thompson-Spires Recommends...

“I’m a firm believer in low-stakes writing as a strategy for managing both writer’s block and the anxiety inherent to writing. When I’m stuck, if I’m wise enough to take the advice I give to my students, I return to free-writing, often by hand. There’s something about moving away from the computer keyboard and back to pen and paper—and a different movement with my hands—that stimulates exploration instead of stress. Free-writing is almost like doodling, a sort of half-conscious and certainly less self-aware method of ‘producing’ text that shifts my brain back to the playful, drafting mode and away from the pressured, generative mode. I know I will have to transcribe whatever I’ve handwritten and that in that process it will likely change significantly, so I feel more able to play with ideas on paper than I might while staring at my computer screen. Composition and rhetoric professors have been teaching this method for years, and since it isn’t broken, it’s good enough for me. More often than not, a few minutes of free-writing leads me to some useful idea that I can take back to my keyboard and my manuscript.”
—Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People (37 INK, 2018)