Free Writing

I have been in some lovely, informative Twitter chats the past couple of weeks. So what I want to do is to post my perspective on these sessions. Obviously, it’s not going to be every week, and not every session is going to provide blog material. But I feel privileged to be among fellow writers that have the same struggles as I do and are gaining the same experience.

So, let’s get started.

Before this session, I had a discussion about the best solution for when you’re in a writing hole. Writer’s block is an inevitable part of the writing process, whether writers choose to believe it or not. There are times when you’re chugging along one day, and the next, find yourself in a writing hole, unable to climb out. So what do you do when the urge for writing is strong, but you don’t know what to write? I believe this is where free writing comes in.

Free writing is an invaluable tool for writers. It can be just the thing you need to reignite that writing spark. The premise is simple: set a time and write to your heart’s content. The beauty of free writing is that everything is fair game. You’re free to make mistakes. Grammatical errors, misspellings, sentence structure.  so silencing that inner critic should be a piece of cake. (Note: I said “should” be. That inner critic tends to hang around when he/she is not wanted.)

What I’ve discovered when I do these sessions is that they help me when I’m struggling in my current works. Reading over what I’ve written helps me to create a plan of attack, even if that plan means giving the story a rest. There have been some sessions where I wrote about nothing writing-related, but just needed to let off some steam. (I had a lively discussion on Twitter about solutions for writing when you’re stalled.)

The other thing I discovered about free writing is that it can be a challenge, if you let it. I usually have a plan on what I’m going to write on my sessions. Understandably, this kind of defeats the purpose of free writing. For me, though, writing on the fly is hard because the inner critic is right beside me, ready to edit at a moment’s notice. One technique I remember reading about when you hit a wall is to write, “I remember,” and write the first thing that comes to mind. Write down all the details that stick out. And if necessary, repeat that statement. The purpose is to not think what you are writing; just let your stream of conscious take over when the inner critic wants to butt in.

Free writing can be the best thing a writer can do when he/she feels stuck. It’s helped me a bunch of times, and has even rejuvenated interest in a story. Even if it’s much ado about nothing, the fact that I’m writing makes it worthwhile. But the thing I need to remember is that everything is fair game. From topics to rules, nothing is off limits.

So, what about you. Do you incorporate free writing as part of your writing process? Does it help or hinder you? Let me know in the comments. 

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Author: G. R. McNeese

I'm originally from Illinois, currently residing in Georgia. I graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing. I am blessed with a supportive wife and family.

3 thoughts on “Free Writing”

  1. I don’t do a lot of free writing, though I do it from time to time. I do it when I’m stuck, or when getting words down is important (like NaNoWriMo). In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advocates starting every day or writing session with three pages of free writing. (I definitely want to work through the Artist’s Way again.) It has great value. I took Jeff Goins’ 500 word challenge and I sometimes used free writing when I couldn’t think of anything else. That challenge helped me cement the habit of daily writing. Free writing can also be a brain dump–you get rid of everything that is littering your subconscious and keeping you from concentrating on the job at hand.

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  2. Good post, George!

    I’m a big fan of free writing, personally. I used to participate in Free Write Fridays, where the goal was to take a supplied inspiration picture or word and just write for 10 or 15 minutes about whatever comes to mind. (I think it was Kellie Elmore’s project…? I have links to them on my site, if you’re interested; they’re probably under a “Free Write Friday” tag.)

    Of course, all first drafts are a form of free writing, at least for me. 🙂 While there may be a general plan of attack for plot, characterization, or dialogue, the first strings of words are always off the top of my head. NaNo is basically free writing, as well.

    One aspect of free writing I really value is that it’s given me a schedule for my writing. I’ve trained myself over the years to just free write when I get up in the morning, after my exercise routine, when my mind is very awake and I’m waiting for hot water to boil. It’s been very helpful in keeping me to my own tasks of writing or word counts during a day. This discipline and technique is also why I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe in the typical “writer’s block” syndrome. You *can* just sit down and write!

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