Freewriting Can Improve Your Writing

Freewriting is a method of writing non-stop for a set amount of time, usually no more than 15 minutes.

When you use this technique, you don't worry about grammar, spelling or punctuation.

You don't even have to worry about making sense or staying on topic. And if you run out of things to write, you can simply write, "I've run out of things to write" over and over until something new occurs to you.

You can use freewriting for any number of writing tasks. It is a versatile method for getting words on paper.

Ways to use freewriting

freedom of expression

Use it as a warm-up before you work on a specific project. When used this way, it's a great method to clear the mental clutter that might be blocking your ability to get the job done.

It's often referred to as a "brain dump."

  • Set a timer and write down your thoughts, no matter whether they are related to your project or not. The idea is that once they are on paper, they are out of your head, leaving room for more creative work to occur.

Use freewriting to find ideas. This is a more structured form of the technique.

  • In this case, you would have a general idea about what you want to write. Jot it at the top of your page, set the timer, and write about that general idea non-stop.

You might be surprised what you come up with when your internal editor is muzzled.

Use it to develop your ideas on a specific topic.

  • For instance, if you have been assigned an essay on the poems of Emily Dickinson, you might jot down a few notes about her and her poetry at the top of the page and use these as your jumping off place for a freewriting session. In this case, you should try to stay on topic as much as possible.

Other sources

This process has been promoted by authors such as Natalie Goldberg in her book, Writing Down the Bones. If you don't have this book, I recommend you get it.

She recommends not only that you set a timer, but that your hand moves the entire time. No staring into space, no stopping at all, until time is up. She also suggests that you explore, in your free write, what might be causing you discomfort or fear.

When time's up

Set what you've written aside for a while. This can be an hour, a day or a week. It's up to you. Then, go back and see what you've done. Grab a different colored pen or a pencil and circle the parts you like. Put notes in the margin if new ideas occur to you.

From there, how you use this material is up to you. You can incorporate it into an outline. You can put it in your writing journal. Whatever your needs dictate.

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