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Freewriting on Fridays

June 10, 2011

I’ve decided that I want to have some sort of weekly feature on this blog, and my inspiration came from the writer’s group I belong to. Every meeting, one member of the group is assigned to bring a writing prompt, and we spend the first part of the meeting using the prompt as a warm-up before we begin critiques or discussion. It’s a great way to loosen up our creative muscles and get us in a good frame of mind for sharing with and helping each other.

What I want to do here is offer a prompt for freewriting once a week. Freewriting can be a great tool for any kind of writer, including journalers, bloggers, fiction writers, and students. If you’re not familiar with the process of freewriting, or want a reminder, here’s how it usually works:

  1. Sit down somewhere quiet and free of distractions.
  2. Take out a pen and blank sheet of paper, or open up a new document in your preferred word processor. (I recommend writing by hand for a freewrite, but do whatever is most comfortable for you.)
  3. Set a timer for five, ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes. If you’re new to freewriting, try limiting yourself to five minutes at first to avoid getting overwhelmed. You can work your way up as you get used to the process.
  4. Write without stopping for the time you set, and stop when the time runs out. If you don’t know what to write, you can write “I don’t know what to write” over and over again until something pops into your head.
  5. Follow whatever train of thought your mind wants to go down. Don’t worry about sticking to the prompt. It’s just a springboard to get you started. Going off on wild tangents is not only okay but also a good thing, so let random connections lead you to new ideas. Be honest with yourself in your writing — no one has to see it, and you can always burn or delete it afterwards.
  6. For the love of all things holy, don’t worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation, or even making sense. Don’t stop to cross out or correct anything. This is an exercise in thinking and creativity, not in looking polished.

These are fairly standard rules for freewriting that I’ve listed from memory and experience, but I first learned the basics of the process from Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg. When you finish a freewrite, you can read back through it and see if there are any ideas you want to explore further, or parts that you want to revise into a more polished piece. Even if you don’t find anything you want to do something with, freewriting can be a great way to sort through your thoughts and emotions on any topic.

Friday Freewrites

Today, in a separate post, I’m going to put up the first of what I hope will be many freewriting prompts. I hope you’ll try it out and see where it leads you!

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