Free Writing in Iceland

Reflecting on a great trip to Iceland in 2019.

In early 2019, I took a memorable trip to Iceland. It was an exhausting but meaningful solo vacation for me, filled with all sorts of activities, including free writing.

Towards the end of my trip, I needed a day to myself and soak in Iceland as a local, not a tourist.

I took my laptop into Kaffibrennslan, a nice local coffee shop with comfortable seats, fast wifi, and delicious caffeinated beverages.

After sitting on my laptop catching up on social media, and work e-mails (yes, I was in the middle of opening one of the best Italian restaurants in Las Vegas, La Strega, (and no I didn’t schedule my vacation around a restaurant opening). Suddenly, it hit me. I had been holding in word vomit for years and I needed an outlet. Somehow the light bulb in my brain said “why don’t you try free writing?”

Several years ago, I heard about free writing through a friend, and I decided this was the perfect time to experiment.

Here are the free writing rules I set for myself:

  1. Nothing is off limits.
  2. Write until I cant write no more.
  3. Don’t stop for grammar, typos, and the like.
  4. Limit critical thinking during the exercise.
free writing desk

Free Writing

Wikipedia: Free writing has traditionally been seen as a prewriting technique in academic environments, in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without worrying about rhetorical concerns or conventions and mechanics, sometimes working from a specific prompt provided by a teacher.

I settled in with a licorice macchiato (don’t judge…read on), and went to work on free writing. After reading all of this gibberish for the first time in several months, several paragraphs of this could be used in the about portion of this site.

This is what came out of it. And if you read the entire thing, you’ll get a little gift from me to you…Here goes…

Vacation free writing. I chose to do this because I had a free day on my trip to Iceland. It’s February 26, 2019. 11:58am local time. I am not editing this for typos, grammar or content. This is just good old natural word vomit. I am not sure who will actually see this. I don’t keep journals, diaries, and I have never been much of a blogger. I’ve tried in the past. Mostly its been a way for me to learn technical skills. 

In any case, I am getting off subject. Maybe that’s the point of this exercise lol. 

Let me start by saying that I am sitting inside Kaffibrennslan, a cute little cafe in the shopping district of Reykjavik. I don’t know how to pronounce it, but if you know me, ask me, I am sure I can look it up. I won’t be able to pronounce it because Icelandic is so damn hard to pronounce. I just had a fantastic “spicy tuna sandwich” which was on grilled bread. Think of it has a basic tuna salad made with chopped capers, finely chopped boiled egg whites for texture, and some local herbs for flavor. Bibb lettuce. The spicy part was funny…it was sprinkled with tabasco. Adorable, yet delicious all at the same time. I wanted some caffeine, so I had a “licorice macchiato.” Licorice is a favorite up here and I am not mad about it. 

The other day, I went to a famous ice cream farm somewhere along the Golden Circle (again I’m not writing this and name dropping because that’s not the point). It was a pretty damn awesome farm. They have about a dozen cows on-site that they milk specifically for skyr (Icelandic yogurt and yes its better than greek yogurt), and ice cream. In any case, my tour stopped into this place and we had a choice of ice creams. I could’ve been basic and had a salted carmel flavor, chocolate, or whatever. But I saw licorice. I don’t always run for this flavor, but I do enjoy a Good n Plenty from time to time. Side note, this is total word vomit, and if anyone is reading this, I hope its entertaining and gives you an insight into my ADD brain. Anyway, I got this licorice ice cream and it was really good. It instagrammed well, because its BLACK ICE CREAM for crying out loud. Not normal. Why be normal? Why go on vacation and get a flavor that is pretty common at home?

I’ve always been pretty adventurous with my palate, sometimes good sometimes bad. This worked out and it was delicious…the creaminess of the ice cream worked with the unique flavor of the licorice…and for good measure, there were little tiny bits of licorice candy in the ice cream…kind of like the inside of those good n plentys. No regrets. I posted a picture of this ice cream on my facebook, and I got several opinions that I didn’t ask for, but that happens on social media. I’m not too bothered by it. Licorice isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and several people made that known to me lol.

Ok that was an unnecessarily long story about licorice stemming from my macchiato. Oh well. Let me remind myself that I am writing this with no rules, and for once I dont have to care about what I am doing here.

You see, I’m doing this because it’s my vacation. Yes, I am enjoying myself. I AM going out, seeing the sights, going on tours, doing things that normal people do on vacation. But on this trip….38 years into my life…I am also taking a mental vacation. Using my brain in a different way for the first time (yeah I know…make jokes but it will make sense in a sec)….througout my life, I have been writing (EPIPHANY — I will get to this in a second) because I had a purpose….I was writing papers for school, news articles, press releases, short copy for work, forced blog posts because I was teaching myself something…there was always a purpose. Back in high school, I joined the school newspaper staff and quit band (I was an average clarinet player) so that I could write for fun. Shortly after that i got into ‘playoff mode’ (haha Lebron joke) and I never looked back. 20 or so years later, I feel like I’ve lost a step because the fun got sucked out a little bit. Now…here I am…doing this, with no rules, no one to watch over me, no one to report to, no deadline to meet…I am my own master, I am my own destiny. I write my own rules. This feels really fucking cool. It’s 12:17pm…19 minutes into this…and without worrying about anything I’ve told you (or myself) a lot. That is really awesome. Ok now its been 20 minutes. In any normal outside world, I would have struggled to write this much in 20 minutes because I would have been overly worried about typos, sentence structure, thoughts, research, and my own neurosis. At least for a small hot minute (or 20) I am liberated. I am truly on vacation. Pretty damn cool. That was my epiphany.

I guess you probably think I am going to stop there, but if you know anything about me, I won’t because I always have a lot to say. I like to keep a constant flow of conversation. I like large paragraphs. I like lots of words. These are my preferences, and since I can have this my way…here we are.

Something about preferences though. A couple years back, I was in my lower to mid-30’s. I was working really hard. Long hours, and I wanted to make sure I was taking time for myself. I was finally in a position where i could travel a little bit. I wanted to make sure that each year, I left the United States. I’ve always been an international type. I was born in the United Kingdom. I’m not going into details because I dont want to right now, and it’s not THAT important. I moved to Salt Lake City, UT when I was 5. When I got the bug to travel internationally more regularly, I started off small by going to Mexico twice in a 6 month span. First Puerto Vallarta, then Mexico City. It was really cool. Fulfilling because I got to eat some really unique foods, get over my fear of heights, see art, etc etc etc. I’m going to say etc etc etc a lot. Its easy to fall back on when I want to make a point…plus this is my party. So on one of my tours, I made a new friend from Colombia. That was really cool, just someone I am friends with on Instagram…but its still fun to exchange a DM with once in a while. My job allowed me to travel regularly to Montreal so that was really cool too. I am convinced that is the coolest city in North America, hands down. Great food, lots of history…lots of fun. Eventually, I took a life changing trip to Bali. On one of my tours… I just took a two hour break. Remember that thing I said about no rules? 

HA! That was the epitome of no rules. Anyway….back to that Bali trip…On one of my tours, I met a couple from Australia that legit travels all the time. I have no idea how they afford that, or what they do for a living. I don’t ask questions. They probably work in the different places that they live in. Then last year, I took a solo trip to Italy (Did I mention that all these trips are solo?…maybe I should tell you about that later)…and met some interesting people there too. The point is that getting out into the world has given me the opportunity to meet some people from different parts of the world with a different perspective. Diversity isn’t just thought diversity or cultural diversity at home…that’s just a start. The world is big…and seeing it first time has given me the chance to enhance my view on politics, food, culture, art (yeah….right?), sports, language, and everything in between. That’s fascinating because I am already somewhat of a foreign individual where I live, and where I’ve grown up. I’m not indulging you in those details (I’m of Indian origin, born in the UK, raised in Utah, living in Las Vegas…k, guess I indulged a bit). I swear I am going somewhere with all this…yesterday on my tour of the Snaefellsness peninsula, my tour guide, David, wasn’t your typical Icelander…he spoke fluent Icelandic, which is a VERY hard language to speak (I think I mentioned this earlier)…his English had a tinge of a French accent and he had a skin color like mine. Turns out the dude was from Madagascar, but has lived in Iceland for the last several years as a Fly Fishing guide. I’ve met lots of people from all over the world having lived in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City (yes…people from all over the world go there…Olympics, skiing, etc). I’d never met anyone from Madagascar. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.

Ok….turning off for now. Not because I’m sick of writing. I have other things to do. Like visit the Lebowski Bar that is across the street. Then maybe hit up a thrift store and see if I can find something interesting. Nothing in particular. Just looking for something weird. Bye.

Since you read or scrolled all the way down…here is a little gift, from me to you. The playlist I used while doing the free writing exercise.

My Free Writing Playlist

2 thoughts on “Free Writing in Iceland

  1. Hey Dave,

    You’re leading an exciting life, I envy your willingness and desire to travel solo! There’s a new brand of ice cream in Salt Lake City, called Red Button ice cream. They serve black licorice ice cream, and we buy it all the time, it’s black and delicious! I’m not sure how it would compare to the Icelandic variety, but we really like it.

    Travel on!

    1. Thanks, Andy! I’m so glad you are following along on my adventures. What a spectacular and big world we live in. I am so lucky that I’ve been able to see some parts of it, and I can’t wait to see more! I’ll check out Red Button ice cream!! Thanks for the tip!

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