“I have gone through a lot this semester, losing one of my step brothers to suicide and having two of my sisters and their children living with me. Freewriting is something that has given me patience: I am not as argumentative as I used to be and I am always writing now. It pulls a lot of stress off my chest. Freewrites have become a way of talking without speaking. Sometimes I write and throw the paper away just as a way to never have to look back on it. I hope one day to turn my freewrites into a book, the ones I don’t throw away. Thank you for this tool and for reading them with no judgment.”
By Tasliym Muhammad
American Urban Studies Bachelor’s Degree Program at M.C.N.Y.
Freewriting by Yasmine Alwan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Freewriting is an exercise in which you write without stopping for ten minutes during which you release yourself from the worries of grammar, spelling or correct punctuation. The point is to let your thoughts freely spill out, associate and develop, and by freeing yourself from the pressure of the “right words,” you will liberate yourself to find and follow what fascinates you. Freewriting is not the same as writing a quick first draft; it works to develop the thinking aspects of writing, and thusly, its aim is to improve your writing process. Peter Elbow, a fervent champion of freewriting, sets forth its many benefits in his book, Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process, excerpted below:
Freewriting makes writing easier by helping you with the root psychological or existential difficulty in writing: finding words in your head and putting them down on a blank piece of paper. So much writing time and energy is spent not writing: wondering, worrying, crossing out, having second, third, and fourth thoughts…Frequent freewriting exercises help you learn simply to get on with it and not be held back by worries about whether these words are good words or the right words.
Thus, freewriting is the best way to learn–in practice, not just in theory–to separate the producing process from the revising process. Freewriting exercises are push-ups in withholding judgment as you produce so that afterwards you can judge better.
- Freewriting helps you learn to write when you don’t feel like writing. It is practice in setting deadlines for yourself, taking charge of yourself, and learning gradually to get that special energy you get when you work fast under pressure.
- Freewriting is a useful outlet. We have lots in our heads that makes it hard to think straight and write clearly (pg. 14-15)
Elbow, Peter (1988). Writing with power: Techniques for mastering the writing process. Oxford University Press.Share