Are you looking for more ways to get in touch with yourself? Perhaps a new way to discover your true purpose or to uncover personal motivators to accomplish something? Or perhaps you just need a way to overcome writer's block? If so, then I have something for you to try.
What is Freewriting?
Freewriting is when you start writing and you literally don't stop.You also don't review what you've written until you are finished.
Now, it doesn't matter how you write. You can use a pen or other writing instruments with paper or a computer's word processor (or perhaps even a typewriter). Whichever you start with is what you stick with for that particular writing session. You can write in cursive, lower case, all caps, in print, or use any font you desire. If you are writing, you can switch it up if the mood strikes you. If you are using a word processor, then it's best to stick with the same font so as not to obstruct the flow after you start since changing the font would mean an interruption in writing.
As mentioned above, the goal is to keep on writing for the entire time you've set aside for it. You can decide to keep writing until you feel you are finished-for-now, or you can set a timer for a particular amount of time. Whichever you choose, make sure to hide all time keeping devices from your view (including that computer clock staring back at you in the corner of the screen). The reason is so that you keep on writing while removing as many distractions as possible. The main goal is, after-all, to get completely 'lost' in it.
Since the goal is to continuously write during this time, you just keep your hand and fingers moving for the entire time. What that means is that if you repeat the same word, words, or phrases twenty times over, then so be it. That also means that if you start a new topic in the middle of another one, then run with it and just let that flow. It also means to completely throw out grammar, punctuation, correct spelling and normal sentence structure because they literally don't belong in the freewriting world. You just literally write whatever comes to mind and what feels right at that exact moment. Heck, you can even switch languages if you are multi-lingual and the mood strikes you.
Another aspect to freewriting is to write quickly. This is to allow unconscious thoughts to surface and bypass our conscious efforts to self edit ourselves. What that also means is that you never backspace, erase, or scratch out any perceived mistakes. You really just want to let the thought process happen and attempt to keep up with your thoughts while writing to where you're not even fully conscious of what you're writing until after you are finished. Basically, just let go and stop censoring yourself.
What it is not
Freewriting is not about writing down a detailed account of your day. It is also not about detailing times or dates. It's also not going in to great organized detail of what happened and why (unless your random thoughts take you there without your conscious realization).
It's also not meant to be organized in any fashion. Sure, if you find yourself making something like a random organizational bullet point because it's what you have automatically done, that's fine; just don't try to make an organized list, outline, or table. That said, creating something like a bullet point would obstruct the flow and the writing should be a free-flowing, non-stop exercise.
You don't want to stay on just one topic either since that defeats the purpose of allowing the random thought process to come out. There's nothing wrong with starting on a specific topic (especially if you want an answer about something from yourself), but don't feel obligated to stick with that topic as you want to allow the mind to wander.
In short, it's not meant to be journaling or like trying to keep a diary. That said, it's still something you'll want to keep very private since this 'unobstructed' type of writing will bring very personal, deep down unconscious thoughts to the surface.
Create the Right Environment
Freewriting is something you will want to do while you are by yourself. You don't want interruptions either as that would obstruct the rhythm of the flow. Even a slight distraction will detract from you allowing yourself to let go for a little while.
You might also want to give some thought to your general environment. Would you feel more comfortable inside or outside? What writing method will allow you to best let go at this moment? Do you enjoy the feel of pen to paper or prefer to type since it may be easier to keep up with your thoughts as you can probably type faster than you write? Would you rather have it quiet, or put on soothing music? Also keep in mind what lighting is present and that you might want candles or incense. If you are physically writing, does it matter to you what you write in or with? As in, will a plain notebook do, or will you feel more comfortable with something a little nicer? Basically, keep in mind that your environment can affect your mood and your willingness to let go.
Benefits of Freewriting
Now that you have a better idea as to what freewriting is and how to do it, I'll mention some of the reasons why you may want to consider doing it.
- Self Discovery
Personally, I think this is an excellent way to delve into your inner being. Once you start to let the writing flow, you can really get lost plus let go. Once reviewing what you've written afterward, you may just be surprised as to what you discover about yourself. It really can allow unconscious thoughts to surface.
- Uncover Personal Motivators
There are times when we know we need to get something done, but we just aren't motivated to do it despite how important the task is. It might just be that we are more interested in the end result and would rather just skip what needs to get done between here and there. It can sometimes be hard to find just the right motivation to get us going. One thing freewriting can do is to allow personal motivators to surface. After-all, the best reason to accomplish a goal is to do it because it's something you really want and sometimes we just need help to see what those reasons are too.
- Exploring Dreams
There are times in which we really want to explore dreams. If we've written some details down shortly after awakening, we can later review those points to bring back the memory of the dream better. Then with the details refreshed in our minds, we can start to freewrite and see what surfaces about it. Though your mind will most likely wander away from the dream, you might just make some discoveries about the dream before your mind wanders elsewhere.
- Overcoming Writer's Block
If you are having a hard time coming up with something to write about and are just staring at a blank page, then you can freewrite. Once you go back and read what you've written afterward, then you may just see a topic or two that you can expand on. Once you can expand on a topic, then you've got something to write about just that easily!
Once you complete a freewriting "session", then you will want to go back and read it over to see what you've written. (Remember that you don't want to review what you've written while freewriting.) Chances are you were so lost with writing fast to keep up with your thought ramblings that you weren't even consciously aware of what you were writing all that much (and that is ideal).
Sometimes, it's best to read what you've written right away and other times it's best to go do something else for a little while first. If you think you may discover something profound about yourself and perhaps don't want to read a truth about yourself, then you may even avoid reading what you've written for a while. Whenever you decide to review it, it's important to review it otherwise you won't benefit from the exercise. It really can be a self-growth and self discovery exercise.
The Main Goal
What it all really boils down to is getting in touch with yourself and to just let go for a little while. Though others (see below links) have talked more about how freewriting can help with writer's block, I really see freewriting as a way to learn about myself. And sorry for the pun, but it really can be rather freeing.
So, have you ever tried freewriting? Has it helped you in an emotional way, or are you more "practical" and apply it towards writer's block? Please share your thoughts below.
More on how Freewriting can be used to overcome writer's block can be found here:
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