Freewriting is the writer’s way of directly engaging the flow state.
How freewriting engenders the flow state
You start writing (or dictating) before you know what you are going to say. You continue to write whether or not you know anything about what you are saying.
It’s challenging and it’s also intrinsically rewarding. The more you pour your attention into the practice, the more potential things there are to see.
The creative moment continually brings surprises. The more surprises, the more potential to head in a different direction than the one you were just writing towards.
You always have some sort of intention for a freewriting session. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing.
When you search the back of your mind you’ll find that you always have something motivating you. Towards this. Away from that. To feel something.
That motivation could be very specific: Maybe you want to draft chapter 17 of your wizards-in-space tome. Or you want to get clear on your goals for the next five years.
Your motivation might also be very vague: You’re curious what might happen if you dip your foot into the waters of depth freewriting. What is your writer’s voice really like? Will the rest of your day go more smoothly if you do a quick mind dump freewriting session?
Regardless of whether your intent is clear or hazy, it’s still there.
Becoming conscious of it does not mean becoming closed or limiting what can happen. When you are really open to the flow, let whatever is really there emerge.
You pull into Acre Coffee with nothing but good vibes and a major impulse to churn out a chapter of your space-wizard tome. Then when you open Scrivener, you find yourself writing about what came up between you and your mother in law recently. You’re ticking closer to your word count but pissed that these words aren’t going to be keepers. Your mother in law has no place among space-wizards. What should you do? It seems like you could keep going on and on about your mother in law. It’s what came up.
Just as you aren’t attached to your initial impulse, you don’t need to stay attached to whatever apparently unrelated thing that came up during your freewrite.
You still have the ability to steer and navigate. Just as you don’t want to push something away when it arises, you also don’t want it to take over. You are still the author.
The skill is less about pushing away the unwanted stuff and more about being magnetized by what you want.
All the stuff about your mother in law can remain in the background. You can let it fall away completely. When something unwanted emerges, that’s not an invitation to battle it or be hard on yourself. Take the opportunity to reaffirm your intention. Don’t look at the distraction. Look where you want to go.
The more you honor this aspect of flow in freewriting, the more these apparent distractions can be rewarding for you. It’s a profound skill to allow things to be as they are. Don’t decide too soon why something emerges or how to somehow force that material to fit in your story. The point is, we are complex and multifaceted creatures, and there is more than one thing happening at any given time. Maybe the mother-in-law episode was cathartic. Maybe it was an attempt at self-sabotage that you allowed to drift away. Maybe some nuance of imaginative texture came up during that episode, and it fomented a subtle yet profound shift in your later writing.
The eddies and currents of the imagination are well beyond the grasp of the conscious mind. Only by making friends with chaos can we learn to be accepting of the messes that we sometimes find before us.When in the flow, keep looking where you want to go. Click To Tweet
Open focus is a brilliant tool. See how broadminded and far-seeing you can be while at the same time staying on topic, precise, and clear. Let it be a dance where you are free to roam off topic and then skillfully return.
The act of departure and recentering can be quite profound and bring about surprising additions to your central topic. In terms of information and things you say, but also in terms of letting the thoughts and feelings really move and flow, come and go.
When you’re driving your car down the road, it’s fine and dandy for anything to be going on in the far distance. The more your trajectory is clear, the more freedom you have with regard to what you can be attentive to. You can look over at something else if you want.
The main thing is that you don’t forget that you’re driving someplace for a reason. Whether that reason is self-discovery, the desire to improve your writing ability, or to be massively productive, freewriting can help you get to your destination and enjoy the process, too.