Wow, guys.  I loved reading your insights.  And how many of us get frustrated and angry when we can’t write?  It really is an imperative.  And so many of you mentioned that there are always new ideas rolling in, which is great.  And the final insight, perseverance and patience.  I agree, you have to have both in this game.

Thank you so much for playing.

Today I just want a quick word about freewriting.  I’m sure most of you have heard of this, but I just want to reiterate how handy this trick is, if you are struggling.  Which I have been, thanks to my traitorous body and work.

So yesterday I sat down and freewrote.  The first story failed at 400 words – not enough conflict.  So then I threw more words at the page and let them morph into another story.  That failed after 1000 words – not enough meat!  But then I sat down and wrote a third story, and it turned into something complex and odd and not at all consciously formed.

All up yesterday I wrote over 5,000 words, though I only kept 3,800.  All because I sat down and let myself just write.  I worked out the kinks with those opening stories, even though they sputtered and died.  But by the third story my engine was running full throttle, and the story just wrote itself.

Never be afraid to write and discard.  Sometimes you need to warm up the brain first, so that something wonderful can come out.

Do you freewrite? Have you ever used it as a tool to warm up before writing?  Are you afraid to write throwaway words?

23 thoughts on “Freewriting

  1. Usually when I write, I just let the words come to me. I work from a very scetchy outline whenever I start working on a longer story, so I usually think know where I’m heading, but have no idea how to get there. In the end, my first drafts are full of random plot twists and strange scenes, and I’m usually very far away from my original goal. That’s a good thing! I love it when my story surprises me, pulling me away from the pretty little road I’ve paved for myself, into the unexplored wilderness.
    So, that’s not “pure” freewriting, but I think it shares a lot of elements with it. Letting go of your inner editor and writing the words down as they come to you is an important talent for writers, and ever since I learned the basics of it (although I still struggle with it at times) writing has become a lot more enjoyable and relaxing to me.

  2. Mr A bought me a beautiful fountain pen for my recent (and very large) birthday. I used it for free writing yesterday for the first time and… wow! I wrote a whole story. I didn’t know it was in my head. It just happened. I love my birthday present.

    • Ha! Fountain pens come with invisible stores of inspiration, I’m sure. I just have to start doodling with mine and stories come out :D Congrats on the story and the lovely new pen!

  3. Freewriting is a great way to get over writer’s block! If I’m stuck on a scene, I take a piece of paper and start from the beginning but this time, I don’t think about how or what or why I’m writing that scene, I just write, write, write! :)

  4. Freewriting is my foundation. It is a critical part of my brainstorming and planning process. All of my fiction, poetry, and essays stem from a freewriting exercise. First, words and pictures serve as idea generators, but to dig deep into a characters mind or the theme of a poem I freewrite before the draft. Maybe it helps me organize my thoughts and sift through the garbage.

    I’ve been using my journal to generate ideas and then freewrite. As I use these ideas I draw a line through them. Then when I freewrite I circle the lines and concepts that make it into my work. This leaves the unused portions to sit unchecked and in the shame of their cliche’d nakedness, but still allows me to return to them later in case something deeper should eventually emerge.

    • Nice! Your journal sounds wonderful. I tend to be a lot more haphazard in my notetaking – I have books all over the place. You have a great system there.

  5. Free-writing is always a valuable process for me. I usually find something (even if it’s small) that I can use for something else or that will prompt a poem or story or whatever. I think I need to do it more often!

  6. Wow. 5k words in one day? That’s pretty uber, Merrilee! Grats to you!

    I actually started my current wip by just sitting down to write. Admittedly it was a story I had wanted to work on for a while, but truly had no idea it was ready to be written. That project is now over 20k and going pretty strong so I think it certainly worked wonders. Oh, and I did that after working tons on another project that had me bored/stymied.

  7. Thank you for the reminder about freewriting – just when I needed it. I can feel the relaxation already… and I’m poaching Kerryn’s idea.

    I have a perfect week coming up where I can’t physically manage any of the revision or writing on my current WIP…. but I CAN manage handwriting for an hour or so every day. Something to look forward to, woohoo!!

  8. I still struggle with thinking that since I have so little writing time it has to be super productive and that means keeper words on an existing project. *lightbulb* Me thinks the pressure of this mentality could be freaking out my muse and being completely counter-productive. Yikes! The free writing thing also sounds like a whole lot of fun and writing should be fun. I think I might do a week of free writing exercises each day to see what comes of it.

    • Kerryn, I hear you. Too often I go into a writing session with the expectation of a tangible result, and that can be stifling. Sometimes you need to sketch, to fiddle, to play with ideas without needing to produce.

      But when your writing time is limited, as you say, it’s so hard to let yourself play.

  9. Sounds like an awesome writing day working through the frustrations, and ending up with a new story on the other side. Congrats! :-)

    I use free writing most often like you did – to explore new story ideas. It’s kind of fun to just write, and see what comes out…I almost always discover fun new things at the end. Good stuff, that…

  10. I’ve banged out short, 5 minute pieces. And then there are the pieces that I start with no idea of where they’re going and they turn from 15 minute freewrites to 2 hour short stories and then kinda morph into a novel so what can I do but go with it? :D

    5,000 words in a day is pretty epic, though. (You’re not counting tweets, are you?)

  11. Yes, I freewrite a lot! And love it. :)

    Actually, I never realized how much I do it because it’s almost all pen and paper writing — until a friend and I started up a private blog for sharing our freewrites as writing partners. Yikes! That’s a lot of words. But not all of them are throwaway. Sometimes you find some gems in there. And it’s great practice in contacting the subconscious and allowing yourself the freedom to play on paper, no pressure.

    So glad to hear you ended up with a story this way, Merrilee.

    • You do find some gems. I’ve had some amazing stuff come straight from the subconscious. As you say, practice makes it easier to tap into creativity. Your shared blog sounds great! Everyone needs a writing partner :)

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