Freewriting involves making a mess of things.
You sit down (probably) and start writing. You may or may not know what you want to say. You write.
You figure something out, and you get excited, and write faster for awhile. Then that thought dries up and you are once more doodling around.
The doodling keeps going and going, and you are once more amidst a mess. You start to feel lost. Hope has abandoned you!
A faint idea entices you. You reach for it and wonder where it vanished to.
The idea fizzles. It led you down a blind alley.
You’re pretty sure that all this freewriting stuff is a bunch of bullshit. You’re full of angst and bile and nothing is working.
All the same…….
You can trust the flow.
If you want to get anywhere worthwhile, you have to.The chaos of creation is your friend. Be a friend to chaos. Click To Tweet
Step 1: Be bold. Engage your intention.
Step 2: Get out of the way and write. Be flexibly receptive.
Step 3: Get out of the way even more. Acknowledge your needs in the moment. If something is pressing at you, don’t ignore it. If it’s in the flow, it’s not off track.
Freewriting is not only about being massively productive. It can help in all sorts of ways.
Writing can be a way of understanding yourself better. When you let bad ideas move through you, you become bigger. More capable. Clearer. Less creatively constipated.
When you feel cognitively cluttered, here’s your prescription:
Once per day or as needed, take a brain dump. Whatever happens to be on your mind, just let it out. Write it and you don’t have to ever look at it again. When you’re done, you can flush it down the toilet.
Do this so that these half-formed ideas and idle chatter are not always floating around you, cluttering your head.
Take a brain dump to air out the bad vibes.
Maybe the reason you aren’t already doing this is because you want to focus on your work. You already have enough to do, and you don’t need something else.
To be productive, you have to get out of your own way and align to higher inspiration.
No matter what is there, let it flow. If you hold back because it’s not good, you impede the flow.
Just try it. See what happens.
Do it for three handwritten pages.
Want to rant and complain? Fine. Do it on those pages.
As you write, ask yourself questions. Be curious and lean in to the experience of releasing this messy material.
Don’t worry if it all sucks.
Just be interested in any aspects of it that feel more alive and vital and true than the rest.
Here is a technique to make that work.
Trick the inner critic
Instead of judging yourself and shutting down, see if you can catch your impulse to judge.
When you catch the judge, give it something different to do.
What it wants to do is shut you down or run the show by pointing out how negative everything is. It can be very skillful at this. But don’t hand over reins.
Press back against your desire to judge. Instead of listening to what it wants to say, you can beat it to the punch. Just get your judge to ask a question rather than make a judgmental statement. “OK, inner critic, you want to show me something? Here is what you can show me. You can show me a question. What do I most love about this? Where would I like to take things? What do I want to express here? What feels good about it?”
Allow any emotions or beliefs or complaints to be stated, expressed, and let go of. If you don’t do this, then that stuff lingers like a stale fart in the room. Sure, you can force yourself to focus, but acknowledging the fart allows you to clear the air rather than pretending it isn’t around. The fact of the matter is that it’s there. Anyone who reads your writing can smell it.
It’s OK, though. We all do it.
Self-tolerance is a trait to embody as a freewriter. It can be a hell of a challenge to face yourself for long freewriting sessions. It can be very confronting.
Whenever you need to, shift the focus of your freewrite.
Talk to yourself. Explore your depth.
Let it come and release it when it’s done. Move on to the next thing, be present with it. Everything can change for you in an instant when you follow this approach.
Pro tip: Use LABELS in all caps.
Just add a label when you are shifting gears. It helps to visually distinguish things later as you read through.
Maybe you want to scan some stuff and forget about the rest.
Maybe you want to copy and paste some stuff because you were working on different documents in a single session.
Labeling helps with reordering material. The label is the thing you can grab and put here or stick there. Grab the text by the label, pop it into a new home.
Then it’s revision phase. Time for the critic to shine.