Freewriting can be tricky especially if you are plagued with writers block or a wandering mind. Unfortunately, I struggle with both. Freewriting used to be so difficult for me. I dreaded every second of it. But now here I am teaching workshops that always incorporate freewriting. Why do I love it so much now? Well, maybe it is because I taught myself to not edit as I go (as you can see with this post I am not editing) or maybe it is because I finally realized that I could actually get something out of it.
I am a perfectionist at heart. I hated not editing as I wrote, my imperfect handwriting, the fact that sometimes I got stuck, and feeling like my writing was a piece of crap just because what I wrote during that freewrite wasn’t performance ready. Sound ridiculous? Good, because it is. There is this thing called self-criticism and there is just no room for it in freewriting (and journaling for that matter).This brings me to my first rule of freewriting…..
1. Throw all self-criticism out the window. Now.
This is the hardest thing to do in freewriting. However, it is the most important in my opinion. Without it you can get more thoughts on paper in a shorter amount of time. No thoughts are going unnoticed because you are not going back to a previous thought to add in a comma or make your cursive look nicer. When you do that you are interrupting your natural thought process flow. Instead of having full concentration on the words you are disrupting them with thinking about structure, grammar and so on. Freewriting isn’t about structure or punctuation. It is about creativity and your natural thought process flow. Just imagine yourself reading a book and someone is pointing to a different word every fifteen seconds. Even if you are not giving your full attention to that word they are pointing to, your concentration is interrupted and comprehension of what you are reading starts to fall short. Just think of freewriting like reading…one continuous motion. This leads into my second rule of freewriting…..
2. Don’t Stop Writing
I know what you are thinking right now. Trust me. I have been there. Here is the catch- If you are stuck* you can rewrite the last word you were on over and over again until your next thought comes to mind.
For example- He was injured but smiling. I could see his his his his his his his his lips they were like canyons
*If you are stuck it is probably because you haven’t yet conquered rule number one. THAT IS OKAY! The biggest thing here is to not let a thought go unnoticed. If you think it is stupid, write it anyway. If you think it has nothing to do with what you are writing about, write it anyway. Remember those are thoughts of self-criticism and we already threw those out the window.
Now for the final rules.
3. Set a time limit.
Easy. Set your cellphone to ring an alarm in five minutes. (That means you are putting pen on paper the entire time). I recommend starting out with five minutes and working your way up to fifteen. In all of my workshops I have everyone freewrite for fifteen minutes. It can be difficult so start with five and slowly work your way up.
4. Reread and Assess
YOU HAVE MADE IT!!!! Now you get to reread what you wrote. Circle your favorite phrase or sentence. Underline anything that you think has potential (something you could work with). If you don’t like anything at all that you wrote. I mean not even one word. Still keep it and before your next freewrite reread and reassess what you wrote.This will help you grow and learn as a writer.
Now go out there and freewrite!