What is freewriting and how does freewriting help to overcome writer’s block?
The answer to what is freewriting is quite obvious. It is what the words say it is, writing free without rules in your mind, without judging yourself, and just allowing ideas and thoughts to pop out of your mind.
Sounds easy and simple. Doesn’t it? And it is.
Freewriting was actually one of the main exercises I did repeatedly when I started taking creative writing classes. You must start writing and keep on writing. Even if what you end up writing is all these thoughts that walk around in your head and what you think of them is they are garbage. You still have to write them down.
Rule number one for freewriting is that there are no rules in what you write. You just keep on writing and writing as if your life depends on how much you write without ever stopping to read what you are writing about or to think about it.
The worst thing a person can do when he wants to start practicing freewriting is to sit in front of a computer or a blank page and think about what to write about. It really does not matter.
You will be impressed with yourself when you realize how much inspiration is hidden inside you. How many raw ideas are there just waiting for you to identify them?
Freewriting is a raw form of writing. This practice aims to help you identify your thoughts and patterns that for some reason exist inside your head. Some of those thoughts are interesting thoughts which when you pay attention to them can become something meaningful and beautiful.
Although I have already mentioned some general staff there are some steps that could be followed when practicing freewriting.
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1. Use a Prompt to Start Writing
Find sentences of questions that you are going to answer and use them as a starting point to put you into the mood of writing. To some people, it might seem weird to just sit down and start writing whatever comes to mind. In these cases, writing prompts could be extremely helpful.
2. Do not Judge Your Writing
Free-writing is free from rules, grammar rules, spelling rules, and even logic rules. You do not aim to produce something meaningful that makes sense. What you mean to do is to produce writing work. Freewriting work. Full of mistakes and out of logic.
You shouldn’t care. Not while you are writing. Do not structure, format, or correct while writing.
3. Set a Limit
Usually, people set time limits on this one and when someone is a beginner it is ok to set a low time limit of 5-10 minutes tops. Just start writing whatever comes into your mind without thinking about it. Even if there is nothing you can think of, write “I cannot think of anything to write”. The goal is to keep writing.
Another limit that could also be set is a page limit. Let’s say you decide to write without stopping for 1-2 or even 3 pages. However, setting a page limit could be distracting from writing, especially if you write on a computer. You will probably be tempted to check where you are in the process of writing which will distract you from the process itself.
These are just some general steps that most people use when they feel the need to practice free writing. But how does freewriting help to overcome writer’s block?
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”Charles Bukowski, The Last Night of the Earth Poems
How Does Freewriting Help to Overcome Writer’s Block
Writer’s block is this awful thing that most writers suffer from time to time. It is this lack of inspiration when nothing interesting comes to mind and nothing can be found that seems tempting enough to start writing.
Even if you are not a writer yourself you have probably seen movies where a writer sits in front of a blank page of a computer and just struggles to find the first word to start his work with.
“There is always, of course, that terrible three weeks, or a month, which you have to get through when you are trying to get started on a book. There is no agony like it. You sit in a room, biting pencils, looking at a typewriter, walking about, or casting yourself down on a sofa, feeling you want to cry your head off . . . .”Agatha Christie, Agatha Christie: An Autobiography
Well, yes it happens and it is not a good feeling. You feel kind of useless and empty. So, how does freewriting help to overcome writer’s block?
These are my suggestions just to put you back in the mood for writing.
1. Look for Inspiration
I know you might be questioning the purpose of this post by this prompt but the truth is that inspiration is everywhere. Open a book or a magazine and read a sentence, whichever sentence. Find a word in it that seems interesting. What do you think of it?
You can even call a friend and have a random conversation but decide that you will keep one word out of this talk and use it as your inspiration for free writing. Go for a walk and listen to the conversation of some strangers. Keep a sentence in mind and use it.
Even if none of the above suggestions work just start writing about how difficult it is to find something meaningful to write about. Write about how useless and without purpose you feel.
“Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.”H. Jackson Brown Jr.
2. Set an Alarm for 10 Minutes and Start Writing
Using as a prompt the word, sentence, or thoughts from step 1 start writing without stopping for 10 minutes. You might rather use your computer but in this case, I would suggest you turn off your monitor so as you will not get distracted by what you write, how you write, etc. Personally, I would grab a pen and a notebook and start writing all my thoughts.
Do not stop writing no matter what. As I mentioned above, no judgment, no corrections, no editing. Just writing.
3. Believe in Yourself and the Process
When I first started using freewriting as a technique to unlock the writer’s block it felt a bit stupid and I was usually tempted to stop. And this is why it was not working. Because I kept on thinking and judging the process while I was doing it. It made no sense.
When I talked about it with people using this technique for years they told me that there is no point doing it if I don’t believe in it. If I do not have the faith that something good will come out of it.
So, do believe in the process of freewriting, believe that you will find the inspiration missing, believe that your writing can become better using this technique. Have faith in yourself and the process.
“Every day, writing. No matter how bad. Something will come.”Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
4. Do not Stop Writing
No matter how silly you may think some of the things you write are just don’t stop. Don’t stop to fix what is written wrong. Allow your inner editor to fall asleep and he can wake up later on. We won’t need his help for now.
If you stop to think about what you are writing your inspiration will be gone. After all, what you might finally decide to keep out of this process might be just some interesting sentences that can be food for thought for something bigger.
5. Have no Standards or Expectations
What you write during the process of freewriting is raw material. It does not mean anything and you should not expect it to be anything more than that. Do not let your expectations or your doubts destroy the process of what you are doing while freewriting.
Freewriting is part of the creative process, not the final material. it is the first step of your job, not the final outcome, just keep going, just keep writing.
“There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.”Robert Graves
Final Thoughts on How Does Freewriting Help to Writer’s Block
Freewriting is a useful technique that can be used to reveal hidden thoughts, desires, and emotions. As a technique is most often used by people who want to practice their writing skills and get into the mood or habit of writing.
However, the effect this technique has to release much more interesting ideas and thoughts could prove extremely useful to writers who go through writer’s block.
A writer free from his anxiety and fears could start creating raw material in which he could identify sentences and ideas that can eventually become a new project. Thus, freewriting helps to writer’s block in a meaningful and constructive way.