Freewriting: A guide for writers to maximise potential
Having structure in literary work is something that has always been emphasised. While there are conventions to writing, there are no limitations to writers starting their practice or giving it a boost with freewriting. This is where it’s possible to express ideas without editorial oversight in a defined structure.
In freewriting, there is the freedom to follow the mind’s impulses without premeditating.
What are the benefits of freewriting?
Overcoming writer’s block
Many writers experience writer’s block. Episodes where it seems impossible to come up with new experiences to write are common. Freewriting can help break through the creative slowdown.
Sometimes it takes confidence to write an excellent piece and self-criticism may well get in the way. Freewriting alleviates anxiety, leading to better performance and quality of writing.
How to make a freewriting session fruitful
It is a good idea to set a timer when freewriting to prevent fatigue negatively affecting productivity. It’s a good start to set the alarm for about thirty minutes then take a break. If it’s going well there’s always room for another session later on.
Breaks can be refreshing, they boost concentration and they help maintain productivity.
Freewriting should be done non-stop without paying attention to grammatical errors and any other form of editing. The moment a writer starts criticising their work, they risk developing anxiety, and the flow of ideas will be obstructed, defeating the object of the activity.
It’s a good idea to allow time to write down all the ideas running bouncing about, and then connect them. This will allow time to channel inspiration and transfer it to paper (or laptop!) constructively.
The end of the freewriting session is the moment to edit, proofread and reorganise, if needed.
Keep writing or typing
Professional writers from WritePaper note that a freewriting session will be more effective if the writer’s hand stays on the keyboard or paper. The moment they start thinking of other things and letting their attention stray, the positive effect will be derailed. In the end, the job will not be done.
Keeping one’s hands typing or writing will encourage the flow of ideas and stop them disappearing. It can be a mentally and physically daunting task, but it’s worth doing. At the end of the activity, it feels excellent to give other things their due attention having achieved a writing breakthrough.
Try a list of prompts
A freewriting session is not the time to brainstorm topic ideas – there should already be a topic or topics planned beforehand.
To stay organised and to make sessions fruitful, it can be useful to keep a list of topics. These can be generated even days before the freewriting beings, and will provide a variety of options to spring from, saving a lot of time.
A diverse range of topics and subjects to choose from will help suit the mood and provide inspiration for the day.
Find inspiration in books
One of the most challenging things about writing is deciding what to write about, and one of the best places to get ideas and inspiration is from other people’s work. This doesn’t mean it’s ok to plagiarise!
Reading books and other content is a great way to broaden horizons, and an opportunity to expand on some of the concepts. Those who make reading books a habit will have an easier time freewriting – creativity does not have to be developed from scratch. There’s no harm in tweaking other authors’ ideas to come up with fresh ones.
It’s also helpful for writers to stay with material relevant to their own niche, focusing on books that complement their voice and identity.
Combine freewriting with outlines
Jack Kerouac used the freewriting technique for his book On the Road. Nobody has to rely on freewriting alone for their work – it’s important to know what works best for the individual and go with it – but many writers combine freewriting techniques with other methods, like having outlines and notes to complete their work.
The end product is what matters to the readers. Freewriting should help release inspiration, and, with other techniques, it can help writing reach the next level.
The best way to practice freewriting as a way to overcome the writer’s block is to simply go and not stop until genius strikes. Besides providing the impetus for a breakthrough, the practice will improve writing skills, speed and creativity.
Projects can be created faster with freewriting included in the process as it allows for undistracted creativity. It is also a meditative experience that eliminates anxiety and enables writers to think freely and reflect on experiences, empowering creativity.
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