The Anything Goes book is the core of my writing practice. And I believe it’s the key to inspiring young people to write.
Story ideas can be captured in Notes on a phone, as a voice message or jotted on a serviette or a hand. But my favourite way to capture and develop story ideas is in my Anything Goes book. It’s a concept introduced to me by my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs Bannister, who would ask us to write in our ‘Anything Goes’ books every morning for a few minutes, to really let loose, not worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation or brilliant writing and just see what happened. It made me love writing.
The idea was reintroduced to me as an adult by, perhaps, the world’s best-known writing teachers, Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) and Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) in my early twenties when I was writing non-fiction for magazines and TV. I was busting to write fiction, but I wouldn’t let myself for fear of wasting time or writing something bad or one of the other reasons people stifle their own creativity.
I now write three unplanned, messy, freewritten morning pages every day. This is how most of my ideas are born and developed. I wrote about my freewriting practice a few years ago in my ‘Writer’s Notebook’ blog series.
An Anything Goes book is a place where you can write messy, make mistakes, discover the unexpected, adopt Beginner’s Mind and say things you would never say aloud. It is a place where time disappears and there are no rules and the further you get off-topic the more interesting it becomes. Anything Goes is the most creative place I know and it’s the way to become a writer.
Anything Goes is the first video in my Young Writers’ StorySchool program for a reason. Without a daily Anything Goes practice over the past twenty years, I wouldn’t have written fifteen or so books, I wouldn’t have a career. I wouldn’t have had the chance to explore my past, create my present or imagine my future. And I wouldn’t have found my voice as a writer.
I dare you to watch the Anything Goes video, do the ‘I remember…’ writing prompt and start your own Anything Goes book. Who knows where it might lead… The video is free with a downloadable activity sheet on the front page at www.youngwritersstoryschool.com. or you can watch it on YouTube below.