Free writing: an essential component of your communication toolbox
“You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.”― John Rogers
Yes, but how? Enter free writing. You try it, you love it—it happens to about everyone. It’s one of the best tools you can have in your communication toolbox. It will keep your “inner censor” quiet and it will take you into a state of flow.
How does it work? Write down whatever comes to your mind, quickly. Don’t worry about your thoughts, just write them down exactly as they come to you. Do it with no expectations and without judgment.
It takes only a few minutes for free writing to start working—your creativity will get a jump-start. It also helps you to focus—during free writing, you only think about writing your thoughts down.
You’ll see that—very soon—you will grow to enjoy the process. It will guide you to a meditative state of mind where nothing matters but your writing, and you will open yourself to new imagery and sensations.
So, let’s see what this process looks like. Set a timer, so you won’t have to worry about time flying by—between 10 and 15 minutes works well. If you would like a prompt, use any quote or idea that intrigues you. Then write, with no interruptions. Feel free to write by hand or type on a computer—whatever works for you, works for the process. Do not correct neither grammar nor typos, and do not read what you write. If you want, you can do that after the timer stops you. Your goal is not the final product, your goal is the process itself. You can write beautiful prose, or a piece of crap. It doesn’t matter. Just get the words flowing! You will soon see that, with free writing, you’re training yourself to trust yourself.
In his book “Writing without teachers” Peter Elbow, the godfather of free writing, says: “The most effective way I know to improve your writing is to do freewriting exercises regularly. At least three times a week. They are sometimes called ‘automatic writing,’ ‘babbling,’ or ‘jabbering exercises.’ The idea is simply to write for ten minutes (later on, perhaps fifteen or twenty). Don’t stop for anything. Go quickly without rushing. Never stop to look back, to cross something out, to wonder how to spell something, to wonder what word or thought to use, or to think about what you are doing. If you can’t think of a word or a spelling, just use a squiggle or else write “I can’t think what to say, I can’t think what to say” as many times as you want; or repeat the last word you wrote over and over again; or anything else. The only requirement is that you never stop.”
Notably, he also says that free writing “exploits the mind’s ability to come up with unexpected thoughts and syntax with energy and life.”
So, go ahead and add free writing to your toolbox—you won’t regret it!