Free writing

By: Cliff Yates

Exercises / All, Poetry / Free writing

Free writing is an excellent way of generating ideas, jumpstarting a new piece of work, or overcoming writer’s block.

Essentially, it entails writing without knowing where it’s going and not minding how ‘good’ it is. The important thing is to keep writing, without stopping to think.

Free writing is a great warm-up exercise, but it can lead to a remarkably achieved piece of writing in its own right.

Give yourself a prompt to begin – an idea, an object or a phrase taken at random from a book, like these from Moby Dick: ‘Next morning…’; ‘You saw…’ (or he/she/I saw…); ‘It was quite late in the evening when…’

There are variations. If you’re currently writing fiction or a script, write from the point of view of a character; if you’re writing poems, write in lines rather than to the edge of the page.

Write for a few minutes and, if it’s going well, just carry on; if it isn’t, try another prompt, or just carry on anyway because ideas can come when you’re not expecting them.

It’s all about challenging yourself: if you think you’ve finished, for example, write for another five minutes, because it might get even better.

One of the great things about writing is the unpredictability, and free writing taps into this, so that we’re surprised by what we write.

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