Free-Writing: a Great Method to get your Writing Moving

Have you suf­fered writ­ers block? Well Free-writ­ing is one tech­nique that can help unblock your mind when there is no inspi­ra­tion avail­able to you. Are you wor­ried about whether your writ­ing is wor­thy of pub­li­ca­tion? Free-writ­ing is all about get­ting some­thing down on the page whether it is wor­thy of pub­li­ca­tion or not, it is about get­ting cre­ative juices flow­ing and it mat­ters nor whether you use pen and paper or a com­put­er key­board, the point is to get mov­ing again.

Writing by Unsplash CC0 Public DomainWhat you write may sim­ply be a bul­let point list of impor­tant items or it may be some prose, com­plete or incom­plete that comes to mind, per­haps recall­ing a con­ver­sa­tion between two peo­ple dis­cussing a sub­ject that is impor­tant to you. The point is that by putting some­thing down on the page you are, as a writer, mov­ing your work for­wards, cre­at­ing ideas, some­where to go, the point of the exer­cise is not, at this moment. to wor­ry about mis­spellings, gram­mar, syn­tax or any oth­er errors you may include along the way, but to put the idea down in some way, it is far from the final pub­li­ca­tion. This is all about, get­ting the core of an idea down on paper, the sec­ond stage allows you to build from there. Once the idea is writ­ten there is one key aspect to con­sid­er, you no longer have a blank page to fight with.

In some respects The Nation­al Nov­el Writ­ing Month is all about get­ting 50,000 words writ­ten in a fixed peri­od — the 30 days of the month of November.

Daily Exercise for the Mind

Some believe writ­ers should start in the morn­ing with a free writ­ing exer­cise before mov­ing on to the more seri­ous tasks of the day. It is like an ath­lete warm­ing up before their phys­i­cal activ­i­ty, they wish to stretch the mus­cles, so the writer wish­es to stretch the mus­cles of the mind. Dorothea Brand was report­ed­ly an ear­ly pro­po­nent when she sug­gest­ed in her book “Becom­ing a Writer” (1934), prospec­tive writ­ers sit and write for 30 min­utes every morn­ing, as fast as they can, what they wrote about did not mat­ter, it was any­thing that came to mind and get­ting as much down as pos­si­ble was all that mat­tered, Peter Elbow and Julia Cameron, in “The Artists Way” (1992) have also advanced the con­cept of free-writ­ing. “The Artists Way is regard­ed as a self-help book for writ­ers with many exer­cis­es designed to assist peo­ple in gain­ing self-con­fi­dence in writ­ing and har­ness­ing their cre­ative tal­ents and skills, one method of per­son­al devel­op­ment for the writer.

You should also be aware that it should not only be used as a dai­ly exer­cise but as a way to move for­wards when stuck. The tech­nique involves con­tin­u­ous writ­ing for a fixed peri­od of time, say 15 or 30 min­utes, with­out any thought to cor­rect spelling or gram­mar, it is like a word-sprint, the exer­cise being to get as many words as you can down on the page. The writer may stray off top­ic in any num­bers of direc­tions. The point about going off top­ic is that it can allow the writer to get through what­ev­er is block­ing their for­ward motion, the thoughts lead where they may and often that is back to the start­ing point, this time armed with a new perspective.

The Nation­al Nov­el Writ­ing Month con­test also rec­om­mend 30 minute ‘sprints’ as a method of get­ting your work mov­ing, they also rec­om­mend that you get involved with oth­er authors on social media and share how your sprints progress through the month.

Not Simply an Exercise!

Per­son­al­ly I have used free-writ­ing on many occa­sions to write some­thing fresh on a sub­ject I fre­quent­ly write on. You do so by just sit­ting down with an idea in mind, per­haps the dri­ver for doing this is read­ing some­thing some­one else has writ­ten, know­ing what views you wish to out­line, or per­haps those which you wish to refute. The basics of this approach are that you write (not so much with a time in mind, but with an aim to cre­ate, for exam­ple, a thou­sand word blog post), the out­come is rough, and most­ly unre­searched (although you may include the nub of is idea you have read about or worked on), with the knowl­edge that you will sub­se­quent­ly research it ful­ly before final publication.

shoeshine by James De Mers CC0 Public Domain from PixabayThis cre­ates a rough draft, that needs pol­ish­ing and it often needs a lot of pol­ish­ing to be fit for the world to see, but the point about free writ­ing here is that you use it as a start­ing point for the work, some ideas may need to be added while oth­ers need to be removed to make the idea work. The point being with the right amount of pol­ish­ing it can be just what your read­er needed.

Not Ready for Publication

Those items we cre­ate as a part of a timed free writ­ing exer­cise are nor­mal­ly not intend­ed to be pub­lished, yet some free writ­ten works may, once pol­ished be a can­di­date for pub­li­ca­tion and some peo­ple sug­gest we should all free write all of the time. The results of the Nation­al Nov­el Writ­ing Month Sprints are meant to be includ­ed in the final work and there­fore need edit­ing along with the whole nov­el before being sent for publication.

We should recog­nise that there is a dif­fer­ence between get­ting the words or ideas down on the page and hav­ing them ready for pub­li­ca­tion. Sad­ly the Inter­net is lit­tered with peo­ple who are will­ing to throw a few ideas togeth­er and press the “Pub­lish” but­ton at the ear­li­est oppor­tu­ni­ty, Qual­i­ty suf­fers when that hap­pens and is one of the rea­sons why peo­ple say that 99.99 per­cent of every­thing pub­lished on the web is irrel­e­vant. To be ready for pub­li­ca­tion, facts must be checked, the research must be com­plet­ed, spelling and gram­mat­i­cal errors have to be cor­rect­ed and the post must offer val­ue to the reader.

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4 Replies to “Free-Writing: a Great Method to get your Writing Moving”

  1. Peter, this is so moti­va­tion­al. Thank you!

    1. Peter B. Giblett says: Reply

      I always like to assist with these lit­tle thoughts.

  2. […] are times when bul­let points help you struc­ture your thought process. There are oth­er times when free writ­ing is per­fect­ly accept­able. I have writ­ten posts with the cen­tral idea in mind, the need to discuss […]

  3. […] writ­ing is com­plete. The hope, to allow your words to flow unen­cum­bered onto the page. Add to this writ­ing in free form, just putting your thoughts onto the page. You may end up with a mud­dled, awk­ward and unfocused […]

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