· By Mays Awad
A beginner's guide to flow writing with Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr
We are being asked to look around us, analyze the systems that created and shaped our perspectives and ask “why?”. There is a flood of news, a differing of opinions, and a pressure to get on a side, stay there, and be loud about it. Without taking the time to stop, reflect, and be with our own thoughts, we risk burning out by letting our emotions take the driver’s seat and steam ahead.
We spoke to Chidiogo Akunyilli-Parr, a storyteller, writer, and founder of She ROARs about how to start a stream of consciousness journal and why it’s so helpful. Chidiogo (who also goes by Chidi), created She ROARs to hold + support women in connecting to the power of their roar. In these 90-minute workshops, there is always some sort of stream of consciousness writing, an exercise that Chidi has adopted as a daily practice for years. During our Zoom chat, she opens up her red moleskin, her forever journal of choice, and pauses on a page to read for a moment. Smiling to herself, she begins to explain how important this process has been for her.
“I grew a lot as a speaker in my flow of writing without judgment. Whatever wants to come out will come out. It’s brought a lot of clarity,” Chidi said.
She was introduced to this practice by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, the book that gave birth to the idea of Morning Pages. The concept is simple and can be very powerful as a tool for self-care, exploration, and of the course, sharpening writing skills.
For this practice you’ll need:
• A notebook
• A pen/pencil
• 20 - 40 minutes
As soon as you wake up, you’ll reach for your journal and write longhand stream of consciousness for 3 pages. This style of writing doesn’t care about grammar, spelling or even full thoughts. No one else will ever read this, so use this chance to put down on paper everything and anything that is on your mind.
Tips from Chidi
• Choose a notebook and pen that really speak to you
• Give your notebook a name and go through some kind of ceremony to properly introduce it to your life and writing practice
• Try and journal at the same time every day
• If you miss that set time, don’t worry about it and come to it when you can
Why This Practice is Important Right Now
Having access to a ton of information is hardly a new concept, but with more and more of us joining the movement to fight for the freedom and justice of the BIPOC community, there is a lot out there. It can be challenging to stay on top of everything and find the truth within differing opinions floating around, not to mention taking the time to check in with how you’re doing personally.
Morning Pages or stream of consciousness writing can be a way for you to navigate the flood of thoughts in your mind and become more intentional with your speech and actions. Chidi said that her journey with writing this way helped make her a better speaker who chooses powerful and deliberate words. She also notes that while using prompts and questions can help, the most powerful flow comes from letting a question arise from within, and letting that be the theme of that writing session.
“Sometimes the question I might ask myself is so simple like, ‘Am I here?’, and then the depths of me start to speak and say ‘of course I’m here!’ To allow for flow you need to be ready to accept the invitation for whatever is to come through. Maybe your whole spirit wants to just be and explore, and doesn’t want to be stuck in a cue”, Chidi said.
If you’re ready to start this practice and are looking for new tools to ceremoniously bring into your life, we're looking to Shoppe Black's list of stationary stores to order our notebooks + pens from.
Chidi is hosting a workshop this Saturday, June 13 at 12pm ET. Tickets to participate can be found here. If you can't make it, try this exercise c/o Chidi to feel what it's like to roar.