There are a lot of writers on the Internet, and even more in the real world, who struggle with the writing process. Writing is hard work and a lot of people feel a lack of confidence in their communication ability. There are, however, some great techniques to help you gain confidence and increase your skill level when it comes to writing. One of the best ways is through free writing.
Free writing is putting pen to paper and writing the first thing that comes to mind. It is the act of getting everything out of your head and into the world. You might be surprised at the things that come out when you let your mind go. I do it all the time as a way of cleaning out my head. This article covers the "why" and "how" of free writing.
Why do free writing?
Basically, there are three reasons why I do free writing. First, it frees your mind from the editor within. A lot of us, myself included, struggle with being too judgmental during the writing process, and this affects the quality of our work. Free writing means accepting the ideas you come up with as being good enough to write down. Second, your first thoughts have tremendous energy. When you turn the internal censor off, you might be surprised at how much emotion you've invested in your words. Feelings may come up that are powerful and unexpected. Finally, free writing builds written fluency. Written fluency is the pace at which you can turn your thoughts into coherent sentences. This is especially helpful if you are up against tight deadlines, like an SAT student preparing for the essay portion.
How do you do free writing?
The basic technique of free writing is fairly simple, but the inner practice is deceptively difficult. To do it, just sit down with a computer or a pen and paper. Now start writing the first thing that comes to mind. Don't plan. I like to set a timer.
Here are the other rules
- Keep going. Don't stop. Don't read what you have written.
- Don't cross words out. That's editing and not part of the process.
- Don't worry about grammar or spelling.
- Don't think. Just keep writing down the first thing that comes to mind, even if it doesn't make sense.
- Lose control. Let your mind go and see where it takes you.
- Go where the energy is. Are your thoughts scary? Shameful? Disgusting? Good. Write about those things. You will be surprised at how easy they are to accept once they are down on paper.
Free writing has helped me become a better writer and has helped countless numbers of my students "loosen up" and start to have fun with their writing. Whenever I get stuck on something in my head, I get out my old notebook, set a timer for 10 minutes, and write until I'm out of time.