Freewriting (Photo credit: Eemah)
Writing is Communication. Effective Writing is Effective Communication.
One thing said to me often is that writing is hard. That is a lie. Writing is not hard. Writing is very easy. Most of us learned to write in grade school. Writing is communication. Effective writing is effective communication. Effective communication takes practice. Infants don’t begin learning to speak by orating like Winston Churchill. They make nonsense that sounds like the “coo” of pigeons. It takes practice to speak like a Churchill (or an Obama). So why would anyone expect to sit down and write like Hemingway (or Stephen King) the first time they place fingers to a keyboard? Writing isn’t hard. Writing takes practice. In the beginning, just like with an infant you might make nonsense but with time, you will find your voice.
Writing takes Practice.
As with any skill that you want to learn, you must be willing to practice. You must practice to improve your ability. You will not start out writing perfectly. You will start out making many mistakes. Making mistakes is the best part of learning. Every mistake is a teacher. There are times when we don’t even care about the mistakes. Mistakes make us better. Mistakes can make us more creative.
Neil Gaiman said this about mistakes in a keynote address at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia:
…I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be useful. I once misspelled Caroline, in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, “Coraline looks like a real name…”
Neil Gaiman turned that mistake into a character, Coraline and wrote her into adventures worthy of a Hugo , Nebula, and Bram Stoker’s awards. Our mistakes can make us better. Give yourself permission to make plenty of mistakes.
One time to explore the mistakes we will make is in freewriting. Freewriting is a form of brainstorming. I am a real fan of brainstorming and have suggested techniques before for brainstorming. I really encourage brainstorming. In fact, I equate brainstorming to creative thinking. I want you to become a “brain stormtrooper”.
Brainstorming = Creative Thinking
Freewriting is one of my favorite forms of brainstorming. Freewriting can be done at any time of the day. Many writers make this a part of their morning routine. Julia Cameron suggests this with her idea of “Morning Pages”.
Click the link that says “Morning Pages”. If you follow no other link in this post, follow this one. Go ahead. I’ll wait here. Watch the video too. No,really…it’s okay. I’ll be right here.
See wasn’t that worth it? I laugh when I watch her but she explains the importance of freewriting in a really easy way to relate to yourself. I have not yet read The Artist’s Way. I do find the idea of “Morning Pages” to be a sound practice. I do freewriting any time that I am stuck in my writing but it has become a part of my morning routine. Freewriting can be a useful part of any writer’s routine and is really good for clearing out some of our mental clutter.
What is Freewriting?
Freewriting is a pre-writing technique in which you write freely without a care for spelling,grammar or topic. Freewriting as a term was coined by Peter Elbow. Freewriting allows the writer to forget the rules and write without regard to how the writing looks on the page. Freewriting is used to conquer blocks and to release negative energies. Does that sound to “New Age”? Do you expect me to follow it up with talk about cosmic vibrations. I won’t. I won’t go all Natalie Goldberg on you but think of writing as a meditation. Consider how releasing it will be to your writer’s blocks of apathy or fear of critique to allow yourself to just write. Write whatever comes to mind.
Joel Friedlander has an excellent post on freewriting called “Unleashing Your Creativity”. That is another link that I give you full permission to follow now or later. He talks about the idea of prompts. Let’s explore that.
Using a prompt.
A prompt is a suggestion to get your mind started. It is like priming an engine with oil. It helps a cold engine get started. A prompt could be anything. Example prompts:
- the room you are in.
- a bird’s nest.
- why they say cat’s have nine lives
- that smell coming from the other room
Whether you use a prompt is totally up to you and you don’t have to. Remember freewriting is supposed to be freeing and if the prompts jam you up then dump them. You don’t need them.
Three handwritten pages is about 750 word. 750 Words is also the name of a great site for freewriting that I use daily. I encourage any writer of any level to try it if they are not currently freewriting in another way. I know that I am more comfortable freewriting at my keyboard than I am at writing three long scribbled pages in a notebook (although I do that when I am not near my computer).
Bloggers know we are all one click from being abandoned. However, I encourage you to follow the links I suggested especially on “Morning Pages”, “Unleashing Your Creativity”, and 750 Words.
So What is “Freewriting Friday”?
If you are not making freewriting part of your daily routine whether in the morning or any time that you get blocked up, then at least commit to yourself (and me) that you will join me here every Friday for “Freewriting Friday”. I will suggest a prompt and you will take it and blog it on your own blog. You do blog? Everybody blogs.
I will also share my freewriting from the week before. It will not be edited. It will likely contain many mistakes. It will be an example of what freewriting is like for anyone who is interested in taking this tool into their toolbox.
This week’s prompt for next week is write about:
“Writer’s Block as if it was something material and part of the physical world.”
If you are willing to take the freewriting challenge then follow this prompt and link in the comments. If you are going to take freewriting and make it part of your morning routine then just comment “I’m in!”
I dare you to take this challenge and make it a part of your daily (or weekly) routines as a writer.