Freewrite Instead of Sitting and Thinking

The more you freewrite, the more you become yourself.

Unburdened writing gets you in touch with your own voice.

Through the ongoing practice of writing without constraint, being totally free, you learn to trust your inner wisdom.

When you freewrite…

  • Nobody is telling you how to write or how you should sound or what makes writing good or bad.
  • You are not listening to your teachers or expecting anyone to read it and you are not judging yourself.
  • You are giving yourself the gift of the practice. Honoring the relative wildness of the creative process.

Freewriting means writing without stopping. The technique is about as light as they come. There is no hidden agenda. Freewriting is not going to take anything from you or mold you into something that you aren’t. The more you freewrite, the more of you that shows up on the page.

A freewriter puts intentionality into the practice. Freewriting asks that the writer be accountable to themselves in that moment, honoring what comes. When you sit down to write, you are only there for that single activity. You opt to make the practice a sacred one, something that is set apart from the rest of the world.

Freewriting is a safe space for anything to arise: feelings, life changes, new ideas. It takes courage to stay with the practice amidst the uncertainties that come up. Freewriting is an adventure far from the boring and familiar rules and structure.

Focused or Open Freewriting?

Freewriting is free in the sense that there are only the expectations you bring to it. You can make your freewriting session focused, that is, working towards a pre-set goal, or you can be openended.

Both open and focused freewriting can work well, depending on what you want to do.

Open freewriting is entirely openended. I do my morning freewrite openendedly. Whatever is there for me gets written. I use this ritual as an opportunity to take a mind dump and to record any dreams that remain resonant with me. If I have something I am gearing towards later that day, I might write about it. But I’ll also feel totally free to shift between different trajectories mid-sentence. I never go back and read this. It’s all about just engaging the flow and letting it go.

Focused freewriting can help you make progress towards a book chapter or an article or to explore your goals.

Let’s say you’re writing a novel and you want to figure out what a minor character’s role is in the story as a whole. You could bring this exercise to a focused freewriting session:

  • Map out the relationships between each of the characters in your novel.
  • Just look at each character in relation to all the other characters in the book.
  • Do this for each combination of characters in turn.

And something will happen. Even if you don’t solve all your questions about your minor character, you have addressed the larger context of the question. Seldom is everything about a single character. The dynamics are important.

This focused freewriting exercise can lead you to make many new discoveries that will likely play a part in understanding that minor character’s place in the story. And the exercise churns things up.

When you freewrite, you are doing more than just copying text that already exists somewhere. You are actively plunging into the depths and moving things around. Even if the text that you emerge with isn’t impressive to you at the moment, it has been my experience that there is always more happening than the writer realizes at the time.

If You Catch Yourself Stuck in Thoughts, Freewrite Instead

It’s not very fruitful to stop writing and think about something. Thinking is rather light and fluffy compared to putting things into words by freewriting.

Anyway, thoughts tend to go in loops. If you were to trace out these loops during a freewrite, you can quickly gain the upper hand. You aren’t merely passively thinking — you’re actively engaging these ideas as you write. You’re shining a brighter light on them. It’s easier to discern which ones you are bored with. You can shake loose of the habitual patterns of thought.

In this way, freewriting gives you the opportunity for irritability to work in your favor!

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