Try This Freewriting Exercise to Warm Up and Make Discoveries

Without a doubt, freewriting is the most direct method for productivity as a writer.

When you freewrite you get to head straight to the source and write without stopping.

Generally people see freewriting as a rigid or constrained exercise where you make yourself write without stopping. My suggestion is … yes, write without stopping, but let your motivating factor have more to do with being willing to write without stopping despite the uncertainty, frustration, self-judgment and all else which is bound to emerge from trying to go deep with something.

Here is one solid way for boosting your productivity at it and keeping your freewrites effective and efficient.

Fears of freewriting

People fear that doing a lot of freewriting will somehow water down their writing abilities, that talent is something a person has only so much of, as if it’s a fixed quantity of butter. That’s not an ideal way to look at it. Freewriting is not about spreading yourself too far but rather reaching more deeply into the vessel to bring out the really good stuff from the depths.

In this way freewriting is really no different from other depth activities. We seem as humans to be designed to resist going into our depths. At the same time, the drive towards the essence is what makes us quintessentially human.

It’s not going to make you into a terrible writer any more than drinking a lot of water thins out your strength. When you drink more water, you get more hydrated. When you freewrite, you spend your writing time focused and in the flow.

Freewriting gets you into the habit of drinking more directly from the source. Once you have a long solid depth freewriting session, and you feel the results for yourself, it’s very likely that you will want to do it more.

A hybrid style of freewriting

Nothing says you can’t hybridize freewriting with other ways you like to write. Likewise, there are no limits as to whether if you adopt freewriting you can’t also do what you have done previously. Go with what works.

Check out my course for the real McCoy on strategies for hybridizing freewriting. But here is a solid place to start.

Freewrite as a warm up to make discoveries

How to do it

When you begin your writing session, don’t do it the usual way.

Whether that entails sitting and thinking about something, checking Twitter, looking for a writing prompt, you can set all that aside.

If you know what you want to be working toward, then spend the first moments familiarizing yourself with your general terrain, maybe where you left off last time, but don’t spend more than a couple of minutes on this.

Do it quickly and then hit the ground running. Correct course as you go.

Write without stopping for a few minutes, then take a very short break. Return to your initial sense of your project again. Then write without stopping for a few minutes and take another short break.

Think of this style of writing as giving yourself options, not as writing in earnest. You aren’t even drafting. You are pre-drafting.

Don’t think of it as an activity, even. Have no expectations of producing something from this freewrite. The written material you produce can be regarded in the same way as if you were just sitting and imagining possibilities with the obvious exception that you are writing down those possibilities.

Try it and you might find that you will begin the writing session with a remarkable sense of lightness. You will perhaps also come up with some really cool ideas along the way.

Even if you don’t use any of the material you write, you do the magical thing which is to start tracing out possibilities. Despite what you actually write, it makes the later stages come a lot easier because you’re showing yourself the general direction that you want forward to take.

Freewrite to show yourself how enjoyable imperfection can feel. Click To Tweet

During this first pre-draft, you are letting your sense of play and candor take the lead. No sense of importance or getting it right.

You can be so far off base that it’s comical or embarrassing. All the better.

See what emerges from doing this.

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