Freewriting does what it says on the tin: writing freely, no constraints, no boundaries, no limits. The world is your writing oyster. At least it should be, if you haven’t got writer’s block. But that’s kind of the point. How to get going when getting going is the bone of contention.
Writing freely though, when mastered, is a very liberating experience. No one is editing or critiquing you – not even you! The free for all is meant to unleash the shackles of your literary soul and purge you of any inhibiting obstacles. So what’s stopping you? Fancy a go? Ok then!
You need a pen and paper for this.
Before you write, ask yourself:
– What is my area of special interest?
– Can I combine 2 or 3 areas?
– What are all the possible angles for writing about it?
– Pick 2 or 3 of these to write about in a little more detail.
– Set a timer for 5 minutes
– Write for 5 minutes
– Without stopping
– In sentences
– For no reader
– Without structure
– Don’t even dare to be critical or edit yourself. It’s just not cricket.
If you are wondering when you can use this amazing new thing that is so life enriching, well obviously the answer is whenever you can or want to. Specifically though, you might like to strip naked and do it as a warm up for academic writing (but probably not in the office at work). You could use it as a tool to take yourself by the scruff of the neck with to finally overcome your procrastination. This may even help you to START writing. And once you start, maybe you will start to face that Herculean challenge that is building confidence in the idea that you can actually write. Yes, you can.
If then the possibility arises that you are able to put pen to paper, you may then start to feel like the power to be a fluent writer is then within your tantalised grasp. The ease of writing should grow and grow, allowing you to finish, say… a first draft? Imagine sitting in your favourite armchair, first flourishing draft in hand, then considering the value of the winsome words before you, shining like a scintillating script and ripe for you to then move into clarifying your thinking or argument further.
Engaging in a spot of fabulous freewriting will stop you editing too soon and getting bogged down. You will also find it easier to generate topics for papers or other writing project ideas if you are willing to take the literary leap. If you indulge in inserting a moment or two of freewriting into each day you will then start developing the habit of writing in increments… the key to keeping going until you get published.
Uses of freewriting are obviously wide ranging and will help you enter into self-discussion and make it possible to think about both sides, or many sides, of an issue. It will also help you to think through alternatives to your own view and link different ideas, while thinking through the ideas of others. This kind of mental Olympics might then improve your chances of breaking through rigid or established ideas that help take you more than just one step beyond previous thinking.
Simply allowing you to develop the writing habit should be goal enough but, as alluded to above, just completing a first draft is a monumental effort worth making. Getting initial thoughts down through freewriting is a vital step, which will also help you to generate more ideas. It’s ok then to abandon any of these and go back and forth through different ideas until you find one that works.
Other uses of freewriting:
- Preparing an analysis
- Emotional expression
- Venting feelings and ideas
- Thinking beyond your own patterns
- Breaking free of existing structure in your thinking and discussion
- For notes, revision or confirming your own understanding
- Summarising knowledge
If you cannot even get started with freewriting, copy and complete the following sentences.
This will get you over your writer’s block:
“I really do not feel like writing now because…”
“I know what I want to say but can’t be bothered because…”
“I have no energy right now for writing about…”
“I am bored with this paper because…”
“My methods section needs more work in terms of ….”
“The feedback was very irritating and I feel….”
“I am not looking forward to the reviewer’s comments on…”
Writing to prompts
Another idea is to ask yourself:
– What writing have you done and what do you want to do?
– If you have not done any writing for publication yet, what is the closest
thing to it that you have done? – write about that.
– This prompt gives everyone something to write about. It always
generates text and gets people started.
– As a next step, you can follow this up with freewriting and/or generative
Try using different forms of prompt:
– “What I want to write about next is…” (fragment)
– “What do I want to write about next?” (question)