Monday, April 7, 2014

Freewriting


What is freewriting? Wikipedia says: “Free writing is a prewriting technique in which a person writes continuously for set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. It produces raw, often unusable material, but helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism. It is used mainly by prose writers and writing teachers.[1][2] Some writers use the technique to collect initial thoughts and ideas on a topic, often as a preliminary to formal writing.”


Basic guidelines:
  • Write nonstop for a set period of time (10–20 minutes).
  • Do not make corrections as you write.
  • Keep writing, even if you have to write something like, "I don't know what to write."
  • Write whatever comes into your mind.
  • Do not judge or censor what you are writing.
  • Don’t erase or correct mistakes
  •  No matter what happens, just keep writing

 Free writing has these benefits:
  • It makes you more comfortable with the act of writing.
  • It helps you bypass the "inner critic" who tells you you can't write.
  • It can be a valve to release inner tensions.
  • It can help you discover things to write about.
  • It can indirectly improve your formal writing.
  • It can be fun.
Quote: "Freewriting is the easiest way to get words on paper and the best all-around practice in writing that I know. To do a freewriting exercise, simply force yourself to write without stopping for ten minutes. Sometimes you will produce good writing, but that’s not the goal. Sometimes you will produce garbage, but that’s not the goal either. You may stay on one topic; you may flip repeatedly from one to another: it doesn’t matter. Sometimes you will produce a good record of your stream of consciousness, but often you can’t keep up. Speed is not the goal, though sometimes the process revs you up. If you can’t think of anything to write, write about how that feels or repeat over and over 'I have nothing to write' or 'Nonsense' or 'No.' If you get stuck in the middle of a sentence or thought, just repeat the last word or phrase till something comes along. The only point is to keep writing. . . .

"The goal of freewriting is in the process, not the product."
(Peter Elbow, Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process, 2nd ed. Oxford Univ. Press, 1998)

Want to try some freewriting exercises?

Go to www.oneword.com and try the exercise. 
There’s a new prompt every day.  
I’ve done it a million times... and it only takes sixty seconds!

38 comments:

stu said...

It's a writing practice that I used to do a little, but I've tended to ignore it more recently in favour of more structured stuff.

G. B. Miller said...

I sort of do that with my blogging, especially when I write out my posts on paper.

A-Z Challenge at Father Nature's Corner

Marie A. Abanga said...

Hm,

l did not know what my style was called now l know. Even doing a trailer for my book, l went free style and well sort of edited the video.

Thanks for this Michelle

Shine Kapoor said...

A to Z April Challenge has encourage freewriting. Great insights!

D Biswas said...

I'm a big fan of freewriting. Most of my stories emerge from this.

Damyanti, A to Z cohost 2014

Trisha F said...

I saw this sort of practice mentioned on one of my blogger buddies' blogs. She said it was kind of a mental spewing out of random thoughts so she could clear it all out and then get down to the real stuff. Seems like a good idea to me!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't think I've ever tried freewriting...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michelle - being a typist it doesn't sit right when I free-write, as I know when I've made a mistake and want to correct it - and I want to set my work out .. so it's got paragraphs, sentences and capital letters, words spelt correctly and so on .. free-writing just goes against my grain. When I'm sailing fair .. I just write ..

But I gather it does work - cheers Hilary

Christine Rains said...

I love freewriting! I don't get a chance to do it often enough.

LittleCely said...

I really enjoy freewriting. I use it as a warm-up and usually do it first thing in the morning. I'm still groggy and it let's the freewriting flow easier.

LittleCely's Blog.

Lydia Kang said...

That's a great exercise to try when the inner editor becomes a tyrant. Thanks for the tip!

SA Larsenッ said...

Not making corrections is where I fully fail. Grr... Got to get rid of that perfectionism bug.

Sheri at Writer's Alley

Home of Rebel Writer CREED 2014
Mighty Minion Bureau Team #atozchallenge

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I used to freewrite all the time. It's a great way to get the writing muscles moving.

Jolie du Pre said...

I write 200 words at a time - straight through - no editing. It takes me 5 minutes to do it. Therefore, it takes me 25 minutes to write 1,000 words. Then I move on to article writing or laundry or something. Then I come back and do another 1,000 words. Then on to something else. Then back to another 1,000 words. . . I can get 5,000 words or more done this way. The editing and everything comes later. Freewriting is the bomb!

Precious Monsters

Elsie Amata said...

I love free writing. I've always called it brain storming. It's great for clearing out the ol' brain.

Elsie
AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

Chrys Fey said...

I wish I could free write, but I have a nasty habit of rereading what I write to get the words right and fix errors before editing. I should try this sometime though and see how I do. :)

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

Free writing is okay...except, I can't NOT edit or reread as I go.

Great article.

Lulu Newman said...

I have only just learnt not to edit as I write. thank you for the website link I am going to give the prompts ago. xx
http://gettingupagainforthe8thtime.blogspot.co.uk/

Linda Covella said...

I think Nanowrimo is one long freewriting session. Thanks for your post!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Everything's better when it's free! (Especially chocolate, and "the girls" are always happiest when they're free.)

Nicole Pyles said...

I love freewriting as a way to flex creative muscle and just get myself going.

Laurel said...

What a good reminder. It's so hard for me to just keep going without editing or pausing to think and plan. I should practice freewriting more often.

djinnia said...

wow! this sounds like a great technique. must share this post with my writing site, hexbound.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've never tried that but what a great idea for a writing teacher. I can see even high school kids enjoying that.

Masquerade Crew said...

NaNo is a form of freewriting, though it usually is practiced with more structure in mind. The concept is similar, though.

Visit us during the A to Z Challenge. We are highlighting authors who are more than writers. Click HERE.

Dani J Caile said...

Good advice, it's a technique I rarely use but I'll have a go. Thanks!

Julie Jordan Scott said...

I am a bigtime lover of freewriting. I've been using it as a personal writing tool and a way to reach creative breakthroughs. I appreciate reading your post today a lot!

Hooray for free flow writing -


Julie Jordan Scott
The Bold Writer from A to Z

Raquel Somatra said...

You asked about the Artist's Way, interestingly enough, one of Cameron's methods in the book is free-writing 3 full pages every morning. I've been doing them since September... it's like meditation. Empties my head, disarms the inner critic. Then I can go about my day much more smoothly.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

We did a lot of free writing at the retreat I went to last fall. It was fun, but old hat. I keep a journal, so I feel as if I'm always free writing. Or whining.

sydneyaaliyah.com said...

I do this a lot when I just can't think of something else to write.

J.L. Campbell said...

As weird as it sounds, I don't think I've ever tried that. I always sit down with a purpose in mind.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Sometimes I do this to get started with a novel. I enjoyed the post!

Susan Arthur said...

LOVE the oneword site. I've seen it before but forgot all about it. Nice addition to your post!

Donna Hole said...

I've used this technique at times to flush out an idea that isn't fully formed. Or for writing exercises. I find it a helpful tool.

Michelle Wallace said...

Thank you to everybody who visited today! I appreciate you stopping by to leave a comment!

joss said...

I love free writing although haven't done it for quite some time. :)

Franny Stevenson said...

I've never done it before...I want to try!

Carrie-Anne said...

We did this all the time in Creative Writing Club at my first high school. Sometimes I used pre-existing characters or thoughts; other times I just free-associated. One of our guidebooks was Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. We also used something by Peter Elbow.