“I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself.”
-J. K. Rowling
Free writing is an exercise that can help you to liberate your writer’s voice and unleash the stream of creativity bubbling up inside you. It can also help you with problem solving and can even be useful in confronting emotional difficulties.
Most often, it is used by writers who are enduring a creative dry spell when, for example, they begin straining for the right idea, word, plot line, etc.
Free writing is a good exercise because it teaches you one of the most important lessons in creativity — you can’t just wait for inspiration to strike before you begin working. As photorealist painter Chuck Close has said, “Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.” With little exception, all the greatest creatives in history kept strict schedules for work and worked whether they felt inspired or not.
Free writing prevents you from overthinking what you write, editing as you go along, or trying to come up with the right word or phrase sentence. Musical improvisation is very similar in this way. A songwriter/composer will often get ideas through improvisation, choosing the best of what comes out of it as the basis for a new work.
Choose an amount of time in which to free write. Five minutes is great, ten is better.
Write quickly and without stopping until your time is up.
Don’t think about the “right” opening word or sentence or what should come next, just keep on writing and see what happens.
Don’t worry about spelling or grammatical mistakes (mistakes are allowed here).
At the end of the session, you’ll probably be surprised at the thoughts and ideas you find in your writing.
Take the best parts and figure out what you can do with them. Is there something that could be an idea for further writing, is there a creative project in there you’d like to pursue? Is the answer to what’s holding up back or pushing you forward in there?
An extract from the forthcoming book Think It! Make It! by Richard P John