Many who complain of “writer’s block,” or who don’t think they have enough ideas to write about, have found the Freewriting method excellent for dissolving such problems.
In fact, many or most professional writers use this method as their basic way of beginning a project or assignment.
Freewriting is a technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or logic. It produces raw material that is used as building blocks or jigsaw puzzle pieces for finished work. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism in order to get a piece of writing under way and create a first draft.Natalie Goldberg’s famous and widely used rules for freewriting in her book Writing Down the Bones:
- Give yourself a time limit. Write for one minute, or ten or twenty, and then stop. For the beginning freewriter, a recommended period is a minimum of twelve minutes before stopping.
- Keep your hand moving until the time is up. Do not pause to think, to stare into space or to read what you’ve written. Write quickly, but not in a hurry. If no ideas come, just write “What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?” repeatedly until ideas emerge.
- Pay no attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, neatness, or style while you write your first draft. Nobody else needs to read what you produce here. The correctness and quality of what you write do not matter; the act of writing does.
- If you get off the topic or run out of ideas, keep writing anyway. If necessary, write nonsense or whatever comes into your head, or simply scribble: anything to keep the hand moving. You can write “What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?” over and over until the ideas come.
- If you feel bored or uncomfortable as you’re writing, ask yourself what’s bothering you, and write about that. This way, you’ll get to know your psychological blocks and patterns.
- When the time is up, look over what you’ve written and underline the best parts. Delete and/or save (to another file) parts that don’t belong in your piece but might be worth keeping or developing later.
- Now organize the best parts into an outline that follows the requirements of the assignment or idea. Use more freewriting to fill in and expand each item on your outline.
- When a part is complete, add a transition to the next part. Use transition words such as “next,” “moreover,” “therefore,” “however,” etc. To get help, look at one of the many lists of transition words on the internet.
- Read and reread your essay at least three times. Change the order of things to make your points stronger if needed. Finally, correct any spelling or grammatical errors.
- Now, you’ve freewritten your way to completion!