I felt like I needed a little change in my writing style. I wanted to keep on writing, collecting my thoughts without a stop-or-wrong-or-redo-it-now moment. You may be wondering, “What is happening here? Why is she talking about nonsense? What’s she actually sharing in this article?”
Let me explain: I decided to freewrite this article, no shame. So I split up the writing process and the editing process to keep the being stuck feeling away and to help me keep going.
Keep reading to find out what freewriting actually means, where to start if you feel like using this technique, and the four methods of freewriting.
What is freewriting?
First, let me explain what I actually did. I concentrated on ideas, I didn’t stop writing (except when my fingers needed a short break), and I didn’t cross out or correct any mistakes. I have to admit: I did stop to think and check my notes though.
Freewriting is a tool to help you write about any ideas or thoughts that come to mind in a given time without stopping. You’ll find out what you’re thinking and what you want or what your thoughts mean. You may “see” your thinking patterns and end up being consciously focused. You may dwell on past experiences or shed new light on them. Maybe you’ll reflect on events that influenced you or changed you in a certain way or even innovate on paper. You may discover new solutions to old problems or free your mind of negative clutter. You may even reflect on your actions and understand yourself better. Are you nagging yourself too much? Being too critical or overbearing? You’ll see that when you freewrite on a regular basis. You’ll be able to analyze who you are and find a red thread you want to follow. There are many different directions your rather chaotic and imperfect writing can take you.
How should you do it? Where to start?
Freewriting is a process, which means you’ll improve and grow your freewriting muscle with time. Freewriting advocates recommend using a pen and pencil instead of typing. It allows you to be free and bold, careless and reckless, and self-indulge in your dreams, thoughts, and nags.
In the first step, you should generate ideas without criticizing. Your writing is bad? Yes, maybe true – most likely even – but isn’t there a glimmer of something good hiding beneath? Whatever you’re thinking right now, go on and write.
The second step is to shift toward your critical and skeptical mindset to revise what you’ve written. (This is only necessary if you need to actually write an essay or a book. If you don’t, reading through it and marking the best ideas or insights is enough.)
For me, freewriting is therapeutic. I do it to free my mind and see who I am in my thoughts. I want to grow out of my current shell and figure out some minor and major issues that are keeping me stuck on a carousel of unhappiness and even jealousy at times. There’s so much to do and so much to achieve with a little effort or a bigger effort, yet it’s so much easier with a positive mind – which I’m working toward through freewriting.
There’s also a direction I’m seeking. What kind of direction? A life target, something that keeps me motivated and in the state of growth. Writing for me is like opening a window to my soul. Sometimes I’m really angry and I can see it on paper; sometimes I’m nonchalant and tired. But it’s okay – I keep on nagging on paper and keep on writing as well. It’s a process, and I keep going.
Discover four freewriting methods
There are many ways you can freewrite. One article I read introduced me to the idea of a 5-minute writing session before important meetings or at the beginning of a work day. Jot your thoughts down on paper and empty your mind for better concentration – let them go.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron talks about morning pages. Every morning, you should get up 30 minutes earlier than your current wake-up time and write down 3 full pages of thoughts. No revising. Every single day. It’s tough, and I’m still failing, but every day I’m trying to get up early and do it. If I manage, I feel like a high-achiever. If not, I just create evening pages and go on living. Nothing to be disappointed about.
Another method, explained by Elbow and termed loop writing, is split into a voyage of back and forth. On the way to your destination, you can choose various devices for writing, such as dialogue, a monologue, a perspective you haven’t taken before, song lyrics or poetry, etc. On the way back, you can read what you’ve written, take out the key thoughts, and focus on these or put them together into something bigger.
You could also ask yourself a question rather than letting your mind roam free and answer it without any restraints. You may be surprised what comes out of it! I recommend trying it out for yourself. It’s like a meditation routine and just might get you unstuck and moving on to bigger goals. (Make sure you read my article about goal-setting to get moving after you clear your mind!)
Freewriting allows you to focus on content rather than form. It frees your mind to fly and create, to share ideas with no judgment, to just go on for your own benefit and not share the results ever (if you don’t wish to do so).
This article was written a little differently from my normal routine, but I hope you took away something for yourself. No matter which freewriting method you try (5-minute writing sprints, everyday morning pages, loop writing, or questioning yourself), the goal is to free your mind and make it available for other tasks or thoughts. Another goal may be to get to know your thought patterns and work toward more positivity. All up to you! I hope you find your way and enjoy the results and benefits of the written word.
Did you have an interesting or even surprising thought during your freewriting session? Where did it lead you? What a-ha moment did you have? Please share if you’d like!