Bet, you wish you could write freely! Without paying attention to all those boring rules, logic and format. Why, you might ask, is a flight of fantasy in Postmodernism artists’ pictures excusable, while contemporary authors would be criticized for the tiniest punctuation or spelling error in their books anyway?
Well, the differences between fine arts and literature are a good topic for separate research. But what interests us at the moment is the issue of writer’s freedom from the requirements set by editors, readers, and even a language.
Can You Set Your Writing Free?
Yes, you can! What is more, you should! Simply put, the main point of freewriting is to put on paper whatever comes to your mind, without going back to fix possible mistakes or check the logical connection between the ideas.
Wonderful, isn’t it?
Yet, it is better not to submit such a free-written essay to your English professor until you re-read and re-write it properly. This technique is oriented more towards reinforcing the stream of writer’s consciousness and hence revealing their creative potential.
And if you want your writing to come out and be accepted by others, it should still meet certain standards, however narrow they seem.
However, freewriting is generally recommended for those who seek inspiration or self-expression. This concerns not only the so-called writer’s block, but also different life challenges (study, job, relationships to name but a few).
When and Why Freewriting Helps
An American author and editor of the 20th century, Dorothea Brande, was probably the first to introduce the notion of free writing in her book Becoming a Writer, published in 1934. In 1970s it was actively developed by Peter Elbow, especially in his work Writing Without Teachers. And in 1992 it was popularized by Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way.
All three of them recommend setting a certain time period (from 5-10 to 45-60 minutes) and writing down the very first thoughts which your mind generates when you take a notebook and pen (or open your laptop).
Let’s see when and why freewriting can appear to be a really useful thing. Again, we are going to base on the ideas of the three authors mentioned above and make out the key benefits of this technique.
- Overcoming writer’s block: writing freely turns out really helpful when your muse decides to take a few days off without telling you anything. The greatest perk of this technique is that even if you cannot think about anything at all, you can and must write THIS down.
It is going to be something like: “Okay, I’m holding a pen and I don’t know what to write with it. I have nothing to tell about. And I actually don’t want to do it. But, you know, it’s so strange when you’re writing, without having any idea about what to write.” See the point?
By the way, if we are speaking about an essay or article, for example, Elbow advises to pick up a certain topic and start expressing your opinion on it without any preparation. After that, you can search the Net and upgrade it with real facts and figures, provided by authoritative sources.
- Coming up with a plan of actions: when you need a plan, freewriting can turn into something like brainstorming. You are free to put forward the most fantastic and absurd ideas. Check them when your head gets cooler. You will be surprised to see that some of them are not without common sense and can be brought into life successfully.
- Pouring out negative emotions/depression/disappointment/etc.: Julia Cameron advises to spend 5-10 minutes of your morning on describing things, events or people that worry, depress or frighten you.
Firstly, it has nothing similar to revealing your hidden emotions and feelings to others. At least your notebook will not tell anyone about your hate, anger or fear. Secondly, it helps you both express yourself and avoid self-criticism.
- Finding the core of a problem: although it may not happen right after you start to free-write, one day your notes will help you see the solution. Again, Julia Cameron recommends practicing the technique regularly within 3-4 weeks. So that you could analyze more and find the right way out.
My personal experience, however, showed that a week and a half can also be enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, there are no universal figures here. Orient to your personal feelings.
Freewriting Management Tips from Our Bloggers
- Make sure you feel comfortable enough to start writing.
- Set the time. Start with 3-5 minutes. Or you can set the number of pages. If it is an A5 notebook, 2-3 pages will be enough for a start.
- Do not think. Just keep writing whatever you want.
- Forget about rules, structure, and logic.
- Put aside your writing and come back to it in a few hours or even days. Revise your ideas and make conclusions.