“There is no wrong or right – just write!”
After being told about free writing a while back, and not really having a clue what it was, I finally decided to jump in for attempt number one this weekend. I did a bit of research, and reading other people’s attempts really tickled me. I’ll try anything once!
My research taught me a number of things about free writing. Number one was do not stop writing, under any circumstances. I instantly thought of things like what if you need to sneeze? Or what if you’ve drank your 2200ml of water for the day and you really need a trip to the bathroom? Oh well, hold it in because once you’ve set the timer, there’s no way you’re moving from that chair.
The next point was that if you’re really stuck for ideas, literally write that you’re stuck for ideas. Something will pop up in your mind the more you keep going. I didn’t really believe this and thought if you’re stuck for things to write, then surely that is the end of your free writing attempt, and you can then give it up as a bad job. (At least you tried it once.)
The final main point I took from my initial research was to write down ANY ideas that popped into your mind, no matter how stupid they may seem. Okay, that seems fair enough, but what if that stupid random idea was to kill off all your characters or completely scrap your story? What a way to go.
However, thankfully, these were not the case for me. As doubtful as I was that I would get any award winning plot ideas, I still imagined I’d gain something significant. Something that would be able to help me along in my current chapter, after a pretty lengthy writer’s block. So, what’s the verdict?
I set my timer for 20 minutes. People on the web seem to have their regular free writing sessions for well over an hour, but I think capping my first attempt at 20 minutes was a wise move. I didn’t know how productive it would be for a start. I decided to read the last few paragraphs of my story to give me a bit of a clearer image to where I was at, and began to type.
The first thing I did was a bit of a mini panic. The big thing I should point out here is the fact I literally had no ideas for the remainder of my current chapter, so I was pretty much writing for writing’s sake here. I decided to write about where I’m at and what the first little bit of my latest chapter was about. Surprisingly, I started to write ideas for my characters. How they would react and what they would say next. Shortly after beginning my first attempt however, the inevitable happened.
I suddenly had an influx of visitors into my room, asking what I was doing, singing snippets of songs and asking about lunch. Oh, the pressure! I remembered what the people on the internet had said – DO NOT stop writing under any circumstances! I continued to write, (feeling more pressure by the second to multi-task) by typing continuously and responding the questions of my visitors. My writing seemed to veer off the topic of my story and turn into a short paragraph of describing my food options and about how my conversations with said visitors were going. Then, my door closed, and all was silent once more.
Okay, I then managed to get back on track with my story somehow. Back in the game. My writing continued and I was very surprised with the ideas I grabbed in such a short space of time. I easily planned another good few pages for the chapter I started, which soon morphed into the beginning of the next. Each idea I had stemmed into another, and I soon found myself typing faster than the previous minute. I got excited by what my characters could experience and the joy of being creative and imaginative all over again took over.
The timer went off and I looked back at my first ever attempt at free writing in 20 minutes. Safe to say, I was very proud of myself.
I guess the key points to bear in mind when attempting this technique are to remember that you are quite literally free to write whatever you want. You don’t have to show anyone your attempt – it’s yours, filled with your own ideas. I’ve chosen not to share mine, seeing as it’s filled with spelling mistakes (there’s no way there’s time to correct them!) and nonsense. The important thing is that it will hopefully make sense to you, and you’ll be able to grab a load of ideas and concepts from it. I think my next challenge to set myself will be to actually transform my ridiculous notes into something that fits with my story. I’m feeling pretty confident about it because as I was free writing, I knew how everything would pan out – it all made sense in my head.
However, I’ve found the greatest thing about this writing technique is that it really gets you hyped up to get writing again. It will make you want to revisit old projects or start something brand new. It flicks that creativity switch in your brain that might have been dormant for a while and allows you to really explore what’s in there. You may even find ideas that shock you, as I did! Sorry, no spoilers…
If you’re ever stuck with ideas, or have writer’s block and no inspiration whatsoever, definitely have a go at free writing. I’ll certainly be giving it another shot soon, perhaps upping the time I have to do it. You never know, I might be one of these writers that spends 2 hours typing non-stop, but then again, maybe I’ll go insane.
Have you ever tried free writing? If so, how did it go for you? 🙂