Free writing is one of the most effective writing techniques I’ve come across, and it’s a technique that anyone can use to become a better writer.
What is Free Writing
Free writing is the rapid and non-judgemental capturing of ideas as they occur.
Writers use this technique use to express themselves, to better understand the world around them, and to think things through on the blank page.
In his excellent book, Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best, Ideas, Insight and Content Mark Levy best explains what free writing is:
Free writing is a fast method of thinking onto paper that enables you to reach a level of thinking that’s often difficult to attain during the course of a normal business day.
Why Free Write?
Even if you’re not a business person, you can still use free writing to generate ideas, to practice writing, and to improve your craft.
This writing technique can help you if you’re struggling with writer’s block, if you want push through a boundary in your writing, or if you want to explore creative ideas at the back of your mind.
If you haven’t written that much, free writing can help you get into the habit of writing, and it will provide you with a fresh perspective on your ideas and what you want to say.
For the more experienced, free writing is a fun writing practice to try if you’re bored with your current writing project or if you just want to push yourself a little harder.
How to Free Write
Free writing is easy. All you have to do is pick a topic and write about it continuously for a predetermined period.
Free writing works best if you’re working against a limit. To do this, I set an alarm on my computer for 25–30 minutes, and I disconnect from the internet. Then, I do nothing else but write until the alarm sounds.
While free writing, you should record everything that comes to mind during this period. This could include:
- The sound of a dog barking
- A desire to get something to eat or drink
- The creaking pipes in your house
- A conversation you had with a colleague recently
- A line of thought you want to explore
- An argument you had with someone
- A conversation you want to have with a friend
When you free write, don’t worry about:
- Bad grammar or spelling
- Editing yourself
- Structure or form
- Expressing your ideas logically
- Rules you normally follow
- Fact checking or research
What To Do When You’re Finished Free Writing
Don’t worry if you write nothing but garbage. Your job here isn’t to produce a page of immaculate prose that your editor or your readers will love (you don’t have to show anyone what you’ve written).
Instead, this technique should encourage your mind to go in new and exciting directions.
You’ll know you’re succeeding with this technique when you find yourself writing about things that have nothing to do with your original topic.
When you’re finished, you can always go back and extract what’s useful and turn it into something more readable.
(Tip: You can make free writing easier by keeping a master list of topics for your free writing sessions; I save mine in Evernote)
If you’d like to learn more about free writing, please visit my post on the Positive Writer today.
Join over 15,000 writers today
You'll get a free book of practical writing prompts.