Maybe you’re in the middle of a writing project — a book, a blog, a presentation — and you’re starting to feel boggy. Dragged down, uninspired.
Sometimes we get stuck because we have been looking at the situation the wrong way. Or we have run out of good ideas. Or we can’t for the life of us summon any interest in this miserable novel or whatever. Like a disappointing menu item at a restaurant, it sounded fantastic at first, but later we resent the sight of it.
It also just tends to happen when we are doing something for a long time. It stops feeling fresh and squeaky-new. We start to feel tired. We take a break but can’t come back to the project fresh. It still seems boggy. It’s not about our physical energy level but about our relationship between us and the project.
Avoidance mechanisms tend to enter the picture here. Youtube, netflix, long pointless conversations, “research.”
We can quickly become derailed and make excuses about the project, about what you really want to do instead, lay on heavy judgments about yourself.
All this stuff takes the place of what could otherwise be beautiful creative productive time.
Freewriting is all about engaging the flow. Like anything that flows, there can be phases where inspiration seems to ebb.
Even a short freewriting session can quickly turn things around.
You want it back. You need it back.
Take a couple of minutes and freewrite your way back in.
What do you have to lose?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Show up fresh
Freewriting puts you on the spot. You begin to write and there is no stopping.
It is interesting to notice what arises when you feel put on the spot.
Freewriting is all about freedom. You still have a choice for how you show up.
- You can do so from a space of obligation, trying to put the weight back on whatever part of you that is “making you” write without stopping.
Blah, you say. I don’t want to do this, but since I have to. . .
If you show up this way, your reader will be able to feel that weight being put back onto them. It’s one way of understanding at a visceral level why some writing feels less vital than others, why it feels better when an author takes ownership of their present situation.
- You can also show up from a space of being on someone else’s agenda, deferring responsibility towards your company or brand, not yourself.
Maybe you have noticed a difference with how some actors present themselves on a talk show — they don’t seem themselves, but instead show up as a salesman for the movie. No judgment of this, but it’s noticeable when someone seems to show up as themselves, without an agenda, spontaneously. You just feel them. Even if you don’t like them, there is something comforting about their presence.
- You can also show up from a space of fear, seeking control, dominion of the experience.
Maybe you believe that you need to get this right. It has to happen a certain way. You are afraid to get it wrong. The desire is to lock down the creative process, and until then you are bound to feel ungrounded. This spontaneity thing has caught you unawares. Getting it right means making it go away.
- You can also show up in a preplanned way, like the politician who won’t answer the questions they’re asked and somehow responds only with the statement they wanted to make anyway.
- Or you can show up from a space of spontaneity. Despite your imperfections, here you are. Open to what is available. Interested. Bring honesty to the table here and you have a beautiful mix.
When you “have to” write something, what part of you wants to?
Write to your reader as a good friend. Write to them with warmth and clarity. You wouldn’t bullshit your good friend. They want you to show up as you really are.
[bctt tweet=”Successful freewriting is a skill that comes from paring away the need for correctness we have had drilled into us.”]
Nothing wrong with correctness or that whole shebang. Actually there seems to be a correlation between very critical people and their potential for having some really phenomenal creative skills. But the juiciest creativity can only emerge when that stuff gets dropped.
When I say to write to your reader like a good friend, I’m not talking about word choice or anything at the surface level. Instead, write without thinking about word choice at all. Just open yourself to the reader with as much transparency and directness as you can. The more I freewrite, the more I have become able to do this.
“Correctness” really is something you let fall away. Let it come later in the creative process.
First create. Then correct.
The rigid boring shell of correctness or astuteness that is supposed to keep the criticism away will also keep the mystical fairies of the imagination away. That’s why it can only come after the fact. Let the mystical magical fairies of the imagination do their thing. And then come in later and straighten the furniture.
First be a kid. Then be a grownup.
Be like the kid that immediately sits down and starts playing.
No matter how conditioned we are to do things right or be afraid of getting it wrong, a very very big part of us will always know how to play. Even if it hasn’t happened for years. You can still remember what you did, what kids do. Probably you can play better now as an adult than you ever could have dreamed of as a kid.
Getting going takes no time at all.
Sit down and play.
Be free and stay free. Get freer.
Show the world what freedom looks like.
Give your reader a taste of freedom.
The two-minute freewrite
Below are just a few sample questions you can ask yourself to get you started with your two-minute freewrite. Customize the questions to fit your specific situation. Keep the questions open-ended and exploratory, easy to answer, and inspiring to engage with.
If you’re working on an article
- Do you know what you want it to be about?
- Does it have to be that?
- Can you tease some other information into it?
- What would happen if you ordered what you have a different way?
If you’re working on a nonfiction book
- What if you leave a section blank for today and move onto something fun?
- What do you love about the fun parts of the book? Who knows – it may turn out that the fun part is more important than you realize now. Maybe the whole book needs to change. Maybe it’s necessary or maybe it’s hard/not hard for a reason that you’re not letting yourself see — it offers you some wisdom. Maybe your sense of obligation was blocking you from seeing something juicy.
- Write about your love of the book. Explore the why.
- If you want it to make money, dive into that feeling of success.
- If you want it to help people, explore what that looks and feels like. Will someone send you a note to say how it changed everything for them?
- If you want to be part of your platform, can you share about your expertise, why you are qualified and unique and share your contagious sense of joy around this topic?
You don’t need to convince anyone right now — the goal is to be.
If you’re working on a novel
Can you write about your synopsis? What is the main character all about? What do the challenges bring out in him/her? What’s your favorite part? What areas would you like to spend more time in? What would you say to a friend about the book? What will your fans say when they describe it to others?
Try this! See if you walk away from the experience in a different frame of mind.