If you are a writer you are sometimes tasked with writing as part of work assignments, then you have probably encountered the difficulty of getting the ideas in your head written down in a way that is actually usable. Sometimes the ideas don’t want to come, and the words don’t want to flow. Learning how to free write can help make your writing sessions more productive and less prone to blockages. Here’s how you can use freewriting to turn yourself into a better writer.
– What is freewriting?
Freewriting is a technique used to free up mental blocks that inhibit writers from writing. It is also used to tease out ideas that the writer may be having trouble expressing. Freewriting basically involves writing down a free and continuous flow of whatever comes into your mind over a set period of time. Generally, freewriting sessions take from five to twenty minutes depending on the time decided on, with sessions longer than twenty minutes generally being advised against as they become unproductive beyond that length. Grammar and spelling are not important during a freewriting session, as the flow of ideas is the desired outcome. The writer generally won’t re-read what they have written until the session has ended. Think of freewriting as like trying to clear a partial blockage in a pipe by letting water flow freely through it at maximum pressure.
– How to free write.
You begin a freewriting session by taking the time to clear your mind and relax your body. Remind yourself that no-one ever has to see or judge what you have written. You may get some useful ideas from the session, but the point of it is to loosen up your mind ready for a proper writing session. You are not trying to write actual content here – just to warm-up your mental writing muscles.
Your session should have a finite time limit set, so decide what that limit will be before you start. Consider setting a timer for the session, so you don’t have to keep checking a clock to see when the session ends. As you start the freewriting technique, set a five-minute limit, and expand the limit in future sessions as you gain more freewriting experience. If you are an experienced free-writer, then set a maximum twenty-minute session length. You can set longer sessions if you wish, but more than twenty minutes will usually result in you wandering too far from any coherent focus in your writing.
If you want to focus on a particular idea, then think about that idea before you start your session. Don’t be afraid to stray from that idea, though, as the direction you take may give you some insights.
Once the session starts, just start writing and don’t stop until the session ends. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or coherent writing as that is not what this exercise is about. If the idea you wanted to focus on for the session isn’t giving you anything to write down then just write whatever comes into your head. If you get bored, then write about how you feel bored. If you can’t think of an idea to write about, then just repeat any phrase you wish until something comes to you. The point is to encourage the free flow of words and ideas. You don’t need to worry about how much sense any of it makes, as it’s just an exercise.
Write continuously until the time limit is reached and then stop writing. Maybe take a short break to put yourself in a different frame of mind ready for the review of what you have written. Then go over what you wrote down and look for anything that may actually be usable for a real writing session. Look at the ideas you expressed and create a bullet list of items that may be worth building something substantial from.
Freewriting is not a technique that works for everybody, but if it works for you, then it can be an excellent approach to improve your writing and to help you get over writing blockages. It may also help you tease out ideas that are difficult to nail down when using a more direct approach. Remember that no-one needs to see what you have written. Even if you are freewriting as part of an assignment, you can always repeat the session if the first session didn’t produce anything that you want to share. So let the words flow and see where your freewriting session takes you.