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Ten Reasons to Practice Freewriting

The Rich Writer: Ten Reasons to Practice Freewriting

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ten Reasons to Practice Freewriting

Many writers I know think of freewriting as writer-style therapy—a way to get worries out of your head and onto the page. However, freewriting has so many more applications. The Faculty Leadership for Writing Initiative at the University of Nebreska-Lincoln defines it as “an invention strategy where students write for a certain amount of time for the purpose of generating ideas…”


Great. But what does “generating ideas” really mean? The truth is that I don’t *want* new story ideas when I’m supposed to be editing my current work-in-progress. New story ideas = distractions, so if that’s your view of freewriting, you’ll probably shove it on the shelf until you’re ready for a new project (or a new therapy session…) And that would be a shame, because freewriting has a lot to offer writers at all stages and skill levels.

Here are ten ways freewriting can help you grow as a writer—and provide tangible progress on a wide variety of writing projects.

  1. Access your subconscious: Like meditation or dreams, freewriting allows your mind to wander creatively—while you capture the process on paper.
  2. Silence your internal critic: Try this “Just Do It!” exercise at the CUNY writing web site. Practice makes it easier to ignore your internal nay-sayer.
  3. Clear your head for creating: when you “brain dump” the worries and stresses that clutter your mind, you make space for creativity.
  4. Discover answers to plot questions
  5. Find your character’s voice
  6. Discover what your character thinks, hopes, dreams, and fears. Discover what motivates her thoughts and actions.
  7. Explore the memory of an experience you’ve had, especially an emotional experience: This provides material for you to draw upon when your character experiences something similar.
  8. Explore an experience you *haven’t* had: freewrite about how you imagine something would feel—something your character will experience—in order to get inside your character’s head.
  9. Keep up your writing momentum: in contrast to polished prose, freewriting can take place in bits and pieces of time when you might be too busy for “real” writing.
  10. Practice writing faster: it’s a skill you can develop.
  11. Sidestep writer’s block (okay that’s more than ten, but I couldn’t decide on which one to cut….)

Convinced to take freewriting off the shelf, dust it off, and give it a try? I’ll post resources and how-to’s this weekend.

What about you? Do you use freewriting in your writing process? If so, how?

:-) Cheryl

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At March 17, 2011 at 12:32 PM , Blogger Julie Hedlund said...

I always enjoy freewriting when I do it, but seldom take the time. When writing time is so limited, it's hard to justify sometimes. BUT I agree wholeheartedly with your list of benefits.

At March 23, 2011 at 8:44 AM , Blogger Cheryl Reif said...

I know what you mean--that's why I don't do the journaling type very often. But I do freewrite to get past blocks, or to visualize a scene before writing it. I write mostly longer works, tho--do you think freewriting is a valuable tool for writing picture books?


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