I am one of those people who will have a ton of ideas at one time, then lose all of them the moment I pick up a pen or sit in front of a computer. Thankfully, this week I remembered one trick I used to use to get the ball rolling in the right direction: free writing. Free writing is a way to beat writer’s block. Also, it can help you focus your ideas, flesh out rambling thoughts, and improve writing.
Back in the day this writing exercise used to be my favorite thing to generate ideas; if you have ever checked out some of my posts like “Infidelity: It Wasn’t Me” or “Everything is Everything,” you may have figured out by now that my interests can be all over the place. Free writing was a way for those eclectic thoughts to come forth. This week I’ve taken the liberty of picking up my old habit, and the results have been great.
Here are a few tips for starting a ridiculously simple free write:
- Sit at your computer with a blank writing document open on the screen or grab a pen and pad with fresh paper. Choose the method most comfortable for you. For me, using pen and paper is preferred; it’s more personal.
- Set a timer for a specific amount of time. I say anytime between 5 to 10 minutes is decent while 15 to 20 is better. You don’t want any interruptions, so make sure you pick a good time.
- Pick a topic to write about. This is a great way to channel your thoughts. However, if you want to open yourself to broader ideas, don’t pick a topic. Allow your ideas to flow from your mind down to your fingertips no matter how minute it may seem.
- START WRITING. Write about any and everything that comes to mind, the faster the better. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing. And, yes, you should continue even if you have nothing to say. If that’s the case, say that. “I have nothing to say.” See how easy that was? Keep writing.
- Don’t fret over punctuation and grammar. If you get caught up on writing proper sentences and whether or not to use a comma in a run-on, you aren’t really free writing. The purpose is to let your mind roam free, even in the confines of a specific subject.
- When the time ends, stop, read, and glean the gems you may find within. You’d be surprised the type of things your imagination can come up with when it has no barriers.
There you have it, the joys of free writing. It is a truly liberating exercise, and I think all writers should utilize it at least every blue moon. You never know what may be lurking in the dark recesses of your mind. How else could you explain a story about two friends, a John Hughes movie, and a dead body?
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