Freewriting means writing as fast as you can and without self-censorship. This can serve two purposes: it can be an amazing way to brainstorm or get started on a writing project, and it can also be an awesome form of journal therapy.
Just because it’s called “freewriting” doesn’t mean you can’t start with a prompt! For example, you can have a specific problem to solve, like “What are my phobia triggers?” or “What makes me truly happy?” This type of freewriting is often the most useful, but you can practice freewriting without a prompt to get used to the process, or just to aid you in creative work.
Here are some tips:
- Find a format that works for you. This will probably require experimentation. Some people like that they can type faster than they write, but I feel tempted to erase and fix things when I’m on a computer. You can do it on a Word document, a blog (private or public), a journal, loose-leaf paper, a napkin– whatever.
- Get comfy, isolate yourself, and set a timer. Having no distractions is important for this process, unless you want to play music as inspiration. Start out with a few minutes at a time (maybe 3 or 5) and work your way up to 20 or more. Just like when you’re practicing meditation, you can start out with very tiny spans and then slowly grow your time spent freewriting. Since the idea is to get into a flow state, the more time you spend in one sitting the more likely you are to get surprising and helpful results.
- Getting past self-censorship while writing takes practice, especially if you have been trained to think that your writing is going to be graded. The only thing that will solve this is repetition. If you make a habit of it and still find that you are censoring yourself, try doing some relaxation exercises before you start.
- If you feel yourself stalling and sputtering out, just write nonsense words until you think of something else. You can write gibberish or type “I’m writing I’m writing I’m writing” over and over again.
- Take a break before reading it over. Get a glass of apple juice, drink it slowly while you watch Stargate, and then come back to what you wrote. Don’t correct anything. (However, it may be useful to draw one cross-out line through the nonsense that doesn’t fit your goals for the session if you are brainstorming or trying to deal with a specific project or issue.) Usually, you will find at least one really interesting thing per freewriting session. That’s the bare minimum– freewriting is extremely powerful.
- If you aren’t impressed with your own work, remember that this is a process and not a product. Every minute that you spend freewriting will improve your ability to freewrite in the future.
Do you freewrite already? What’s your process?
Please feel free to comment!