Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
Free writing is a writing method some people use as a prewriting technique. It is often useful for brainstorming or writer's block. During a free writing exercise, a person writes anything that comes to her mind for a certain amount of time. While she is writing, she should not stop or pay attention to anything that she has written. Afterward, any good coherent ideas can be highlighted or rewritten.
This type of writing is also sometimes referred to as automatic writing or stream-of-conscious writing. To begin free writing, a person should set a specific time limit. This can be anywhere from a couple of minutes to 20 minutes. An alarm or timer can be set to mark the end of this time.
Before a free writing session, a topic should be chosen. This topic can be written at the top of a fresh page. If a person is writing an essay about music, for example, she would write the word "music" at the top of a blank page.
Free writing can be done using a pen and a piece of paper, or it can be done using a word processor on a computer. Some people believe that a pen and piece of paper is usually best, since it is harder to delete any words that have been written. On the other hand, some word processors have features that make users unable to delete anything that they have written.
Once a person begins free writing, she should write quickly about anything that pops into her mind. She should also not stop writing during the process. Her hands should keep moving the entire time, even if she is just writing gibberish. It is also considered perfectly acceptable to write random words or phrases such as “I'm not sure what to write” during this time.
During the free writing process, the writer should also not read anything that she has written. She should also disregard any mistakes. This includes spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. If she wants to reword a phrase, instead of scratching it out or deleting it, she should simply rewrite it on another line.
Only after the specified amount of time has passed should a free writer stop writing. At this point, she can then read what she has written. Any new or good ideas can be rewritten on another piece of paper, or highlighted or marked in some other way. Sometimes, a writer may notice that she has gone in a completely different direction than she originally planned while she was free writing.
The first time I ever participated in free writing, it seemed like a daunting task. I don't remember what the topic was, but I had a hard time coming up with much to write down.
I also felt silly just writing down random thoughts that were going through my head that had nothing to do with the topic at hand. I think I would have felt a little bit foolish if I would have had to share the gibberish with someone.
There were people around me who seemed to be able to do this with ease and never stopped writing the whole time.
I will say this is something that seems to get easier the more often
you do it. Although I never found it as easy as others in my class, it did become a little bit easier for me over time.
I have never tried this using a word processor. We always used a pen and paper. I think those who don't type very fast, but have a very creative mind, might be at a disadvantage if they used a computer.
I know this sounds like a very simple concept, but writing the topic of what you want to write about at the top of the paper is very important.
I have used free writing many times when I am having a hard time coming up with words or ideas. For some reason, writing the topic in bold letters across the top of the paper helps me keep my mind focused.
This is especially helpful when you get to a point where you feel like you have run out of something to write down. Constantly looking at the topic can trigger something that you have not thought about yet.
As a writer, I think free writing is one of the most helpful exercises you can do. If you are one who frequently struggles with writer's block, this can make a big difference.
If you are doing this with a group of people, and everyone is writing on the same topic, sharing your ideas at the end of the completed time is also very helpful.
This exercise becomes even more powerful when you share your ideas out loud with other people. Many times this will trigger even more thoughts and ideas that you find helpful.
I have found this to be effective whether I am by myself or with a group of other people. If you practice this exercise with others, it has the same concept of the saying, 'two heads are better than one'.
I had never heard of free writing until I took a creative writing course in college. I found this exercise to be very helpful when it came to coming up with new ideas.
Many times our minds think of something, and if we don't write it down, we forget what it was. I also found that this helps get the creative juices flowing, and you realize there are a lot more ideas you can come up with than you ever imagined.
Our instructor had us perform this exercise many times during the semester. At first, she started out with just a few minutes, and gradually increased the time.
For some people, even a couple minutes seemed like a long time when we first started doing this. By the end of the semester, a time limit of 2 minutes didn't seem like nearly enough time.