Part of last summer’s prep for my Ibiza Novel was a daily regime of writing 700 words per day about the island. This practice of freewriting is an invaluable tool for developing discipline, getting comfortable with words, sharpening your eyes, and learning to put what you see precisely into words.
Freewriting is flexible, versatile; it belongs to you. Use it to:
+Describe people, places or events
+Explore ideas and alternative storylines
+Remind yourself that you’re a writer
+Find your voice
+Write without fear or expectation
Below is one of my ‘Ibiza 700’ freewrites. After you read it try your own. Set a word or time-limit (500 words or
10 minutes is a good place to start) and write without stopping. Don’t hesitate, don’t edit, don’t worry about capitals or punctuation, and don’t think too much. Just write.
Arriving in Ibiza. The sliding doors and that curved chrome bar at the top of the barrier – you can always see people peering over it eagerly. Children and small dogs running around. Occasionally shitting inappropriately. During the height of summer there are all the package holiday reps and the club tarts tottering around on platform heels, eyes haggard beneath their layers of kohl, tits (fake and real) spilling out of the tops of their tiny vests or dresses.
If you want to get money you go to the yellow La Caixa, which has a horizontal screen and touch key. The thing is about twice as big as your average American or UK cash point, and the process is unnecessarily complicated. You have to choose a language. Extra steps include choosing which account to use (credit, current) and whether to get your money in euros or your own currency. Once you’ve gotten through this (which can be intellectually challenging, depending on where you’ve flown from and your level of intoxication) you then have to tell the machine whether you want a receipt, no receipt but balance on screen, or no receipt. Then it asks if you want to check your balance which, as a foreigner, you can’t, but the machine doesn’t tell you that and if you say ‘yes’ you immediately get sucked back into the weird inner workings of the machine. After what seems like about 10 minutes, and a 100 button-punches, you finally get your cash. Try to remember to take your card. It’s easy to forget these things.
Once you go through the doors the ibiza air hits you: hot, a touch humid, smelling faintly of salt. If it’s your first time you won’t know that you’re only a few hundred metres as the crow flies from ses salinas. All you know is that it smells of heat and the sea – and cigarette smoke. Always. There will be a crowd of jabbering Italian teenagers all puffing away. Brits with cuffed shorts and trilbies smoking roll-ups. The Germans are, I think, less likely to be smoking, they’ll be in huddles around their luggage, checking their itineraries. A few lanky straw-blond Dutch will be marching past with their suitcases. The no-parking drop off zone will be clogged with parked cars, hazard lights flashing, people bumbling in and out, pushing luggage, each other, either hyperactive because they’ve just arrived or pie-eyed and peeling, if they’re on the way home.
Arriving in Ibiza it seems infinitely large. You don’t realise how tiny it really is. Unfamiliarity makes the bits of scrub land along the caraterra seem like expanses, and the Hiper Centro and Hiper Mueble loom out, marking themselves on your memory before you know what a ‘hiper centro’ or a ‘hiper mueble’ is. They’re both painted white now, but the hiper mueble used to be that specific puke-terracotta colour that Spain specialises in. It must be cheap, like the red paint was for the Venitians. Anyway, the hiper mueble still has the huge, incongruous rabbit on the side. It could take a year or two before you realise it’s a furniture store.
Long before you know that (you may never) you’ll take it for granted as a landmark, as in ‘the hiper mueble roundabout’. You come from south to north, hitting it at high speed if you’re in one of those white taxis that never run less than 120km/hr along the caraterra. You either dip beneath and turn right, past the feria central towards ibiza town (past the casino, the B-Fit gym) or swing left and head towards San An, past Amnesia, which a newcomer probably wouldn’t even recognise in daylight, on the right, and Privilege on the left, its huge, ugly geometric dome poking above the trees. The taxi driver is more likely to point that out, if he is a pointing out type. It is the world’s largest club, according to the Guinness book of records.