Are you compelled to write?
Do you sit in front of your computer dying to write your story, poem, memoir, or research paper? Are words flowing from your brain faster than you can capture them? Most of us don’t feel that way every day. We need something to stir ourselves into writing. The following freewriting techniques are an incredible way for you to get writing even when you have writer’s block.
They awaken your mind, helping you write words and ideas.
What is freewriting?
It’s an activity where you write non-stop for a set amount of time. During that time, you write about anything that comes to your mind. Peter Elbow recommended this technique for learning how to write by developing ideas, voice, etc.
The idea is to write and keep writing without stopping to edit, revise, or correct anything. If you get stuck, write, “I can’t think of what to write, “ and keep writing until the time is up. Some writers will even say, “You can’t take your pen off the paper!”
The benefit of freewriting is that it takes what is inside your head and puts it onto paper (or on a computer, tablet, or cell phone).
There are freewriting techniques that super-charge the creative process. These 3 types of freewriting activities get you fired up and energized to write. They help you uncover ideas, people, and things you can write about for a writing project!
- Focused Freewriting
- Morning Pages
- Character Journals
#1 Focused Freewriting
This is freewriting based on a prompt or question. It gives you inspiration or something to consider while you write. Focused freewriting gives you a direction to explore in your writing.
Focused Freewriting Prompts give you a topic. For example, “Visualize your favorite place and describe what you see, hear, touch, smell, or taste, etc.” Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within includes a fantastic list of creative topics you can use.
One of my favorite focused freewriting activities is called “Writing off the Page” (Goldberg 23-24). To do this, pick a line from a poem and write it at the top of your page. Start writing based on the line and keep writing. Every time you get stuck, write down the line again and continue writing. Check out the infographic, “5 Freewriting Prompts: To Unleash Your Creativity,” to see more freewriting prompts.
Focused Freewriting Questions: This type of freewriting is where you ask a question about a topic or subject. For example, “What’s the most important thing people need to know about this subject?” Writing a response to a question helps you discover ideas.
If you want to add more details about a subject, select an idea from your freewrite. Write the idea at the top of your page and freewrite again. This is a freewriting activity called “Looping.”
If you want to learn more about this type of focused freewrite, read my blog post, “5 Creative Prewriting Activities to Get You Fired -up to Write Awesome Essays.” https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/5-creative-prewriting-activities-to-get-you-fired-up-to-write-awesome-essays/.
#2 Morning Pages
The concept of Morning Pages comes from Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way.
Morning Pages are three long-hand pages of writing you do when you first wake-up. It’s “stream of consciousness” writing. Julia Cameron describes this as a clearing of your mind before you start the rest of your day.
Cameron says Morning Pages are not creative or beautiful. They are just what you think about. Check out this video to see Julia Cameron describe how Morning Pages help people live creatively. http://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/
I like this freewriting activity because I’m thinking on the page. My Morning Pages reflect how I feel and what I’m worried about. I write about what I’m doing. I often figure out my ideas for a story, essay, research paper, or blog post. I also write about family, friends, and anything else on my mind.
It’s a challenge to write 3 full long-hand pages. Sometimes, I want to quit, but when this happens, I push myself to keep writing. At the end of the morning pages, I feel like I have plans, thoughts, and ambition for what I’ll do next.
# 3 Character Journals
Are you writing a work of fiction? Character Journals help you develop your character’s voice and get you inside the mind of your character.
I first learned about character journals when I wrote my first novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is an activity where you write from the perspective of a character. I write journal entries as if I’m one of my characters.
I keep a character journal for each of the main characters in my story. I write from all the main characters’ perspectives in a story (including the antagonist/s villain). Especially the villain because I find it challenging to get inside his/her mind.
Some ideas for journal entries are:
- Reflections on a character’s past events( backstory).
- Views the character has of events in the story.
- Interview questions you ask a character.
I write a character journal entry before any fiction writing session. My brain is connected to my characters, and I find myself eager to write the next step in their journey. I care more about what will happen to them.
Another approach to this type of journal is to write from the perspective of characters you’ve read about in a book or characters you’ve seen in a film or a TV show. People who write from other characters’ points of view understand those people’s or being’s (alien, elf, animal, etc.) motivations and actions.
Choosing Freewriting Techniques
One of the worst things that can happen to a writer is staring at a screen or a page and thinking, “ I don’t know what to write.” Freewriting makes it easier to start writing even when you have writer’s block.
Each of these freewriting activities is unique and helps you write differently. Focused freewriting and Morning Pages work for writers in all genres. They work for academic writing, blogging, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Character journals help fiction writers dive deeper into their characters.
Select the activity that speaks to you and do it regularly. Make that freewriting activity a habit. Freewriting works best when you do it daily. The more you freewrite, the easier it is to think creatively and write!
I use freewriting with all of my students, and it’s one of the keys to their writing progress in any writing: academic, personal narrative, fiction, poetry, and blogging. Try some of the freewriting techniques and see how they make you a better writer!
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