It happens to the best of us: writer’s block. Whether your writing efforts are coming up empty or your thoughts are just too jumbled to make sense, freewriting (or stream-of-consciousness writing) is a great creative writing technique for generating new ideas or developing a vague idea into something concrete—like an essay, short story, or poem. Some authors even use freewriting to flesh out or organize their novels. Other writers simply enjoy the freedom of letting their thoughts flow, with the editorial/critical side of their brains turned off. Amazing things can result when you let your mind run free!
9 Freewriting Tips: How To Begin A Stream-Of-Consciousness Writing Session
- Find a quiet spot with no distractions, and grab a pen and paper (or open a blank document).
- Briefly clarify your goal. Are you searching for general inspiration or trying to work out a character’s backstory?
- If you’re freewriting to hone your craft or refill your mental gas tank, try one of our writing prompts to get you started.
- Set a timer for five to ten minutes—twenty or thirty if you’re a more experienced writer.
- Now, turn off your brain. The key to freewriting is NOT to think too much. Set pen to paper and start writing whatever comes to mind. Let the words flow out of your head and onto the paper.
- If you’re completely drawing a blank, write whatever nonsense comes to mind—even “My brain is mush. My brain is mush.”
- Throw all grammar and punctuation rules out the window, and feel free to ignore conventional spelling. (Doesn’t that feel great?) You can edit later when you’re translating your freewriting into a finished, polished piece.
- Keep the momentum going by not reading what you’ve written until the freewriting session is over. Again, the key is to not think too much.
- A technique called “mapping” can be helpful if you’re wrestling with a specific idea. Write your main idea in the middle of a page, with branches extending outward for words, phrases, or ideas associated with it. More branches can extend from each main branch for subtopics or related ideas.
How To Interpret And Use Your Own Freewriting
Once you’re finished…what do you do with your freewriting? You may find nothing usable comes from one session; it may take several to produce anything worthwhile. Or you might find inspiration from just one word or phrase that leads to a longer piece, like a poem or even the beginnings of a book.
The key to effective freewriting is practice. Consider making it a part of your prewriting ritual every time you sit down to write. With freewriting, you can escape your inner critic—and free the writer within!