Friday, 11 May 2012


Whenever I heard the word "freewriting", I would think of something akin to journal writing: scribbling down your innermost thoughts as soon as they pop into your head. 

But I didn't get it. Not until a few days ago, when I learned how to do it properly.

After spotting this excersize, I realised freewriting is not about coherent thought. I'm going to go all "hippy" on you for a minute and entertain the idea that freewriting is all about unclogging your subconscious, in order to make way for wondrous creation (say it with a grand, old man voice).

What I'm about to say next will probably go against the point of being a writer, but the thought of writing with such... lack of inhibition... it scared me. What if I just spouted out a load of crap? I'm a control freak; I like structure; I like order. This goes against my usual way of doing stuff.

But it works. Sweet Mother of Lucifer, it works!

I set my timer for five minutes, then started freewriting, using the word "hands" as a prompt. Next followed an accumulation of words that were in no way related to the word "hands". I just wrote without regard to comprehension, punctuation, spelling and, lastly (as you can see from the state of my writing), a complete disregard for neatness.

After what only seemed like a minute or two, my alarm was going off. Reading it back immediately, it was pretty surreal; as though someone else had written it. A lot of it made me think "where the hell did that come from?" but there were a couple of words or phrases that ignited my curiosity and made me want to explore further.

This is a perfect excersize for writing short stories. Or even getting into that writing zone I spoke about a couple of posts ago. 

A lot of people choose to freewrite first thing in the morning. I certainly couldn't do that during the working week. I just want to write for hours after doing this excersize, not travel into work and spend the day reading committee papers and drawing on maps. 

Do you already freewrite? Am I the last to learn of this phenomenon? If not, why don't you set the timer, give it a bash and let me know how you got on?

I've been doing it every day since, and I'm happy to report my first draft is now FINISHED! As Jay Z would say... on to the next one (draft, that is)...



Clare said...

This sounds like a really interesting exercise. I might give it a try tomorrow morning to see if it can motivate me to finish a project that's due soon.

michelle said...

It's crazy, but it does work!
I haven't tried freewriting in ages... must get back to it.
Check out the site, a 60 seconds exercise, where you click go and the page will load with the cursor in place... I use it (with soft background music), for a 5-10 minute freewriting prompt, to get the creative juices flowing...

Ciara Margaret Quinlan said...

Have to say, it worked for me. Also, Mother of Lucifer? Must admit that that had the clogs in my little head turning like crazy. Who would she be? How would she feel about how her son turned out? Anyway, thanks for the exercise!

deathwriter said...

I don't really free write much (other than my blog:) but when I was in school, one of my mentors would have us do this. She'd just give us a prompt and we'd all write like mad for 15 minutes. It was amazing what can come out when we turn our editors off.

Anonymous said...

streams of consciousness writing

nutschell said...

It really does work. I've tried it a few times (I should do it more often) and it does free the mind:)

Catherine Noble said...

@Clare: It's really good, I've started looking forward to my wee "warm up". As if I weren't enthusiastic/obsessed enough about writing :)

@Michelle: Oooh I shall have to check that website out, Michelle, it sounds excellent. Thank you!

@Ciara Margaret Quinlan: Sweet Mother of Lucifer is a phrase my sister and I invented for dramatic effect. I'm glad it turned your cogs haha.

@deathwriter: I've heard this is quite a common excersize in creative writing classes. It really is amazing, I can't recommend it highly enough! :)

Anonymous: Indeed!

@nutschell: It does, doesn't it? It only makes me ache (even moreso) for a life of writing full time, where I could start my day like this every day!

Michael Horvath said...

Interesting... My blog posts are all shorts that I write off the top of my head in about 15 minutes. I suppose that is very similar to freewriting.

Catherine Noble said...

@Michael Horvath: You're so lucky, it takes me a ridiculous amount of time to write a blog post. So much so that I get annoyed with myself for taking so long! I'm sure the babble that stems from my freewriting is not fit for public consumption haha.

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