Freewriting: A Way Around Writer's Block
(printable version here)
This is one of our Consultants' favorite techniques for helping writers who cannot get started. Freewriting is analogous to the warm up you might do before exercising.
There is no "correct" way to freewrite, so try a variation of these steps:
- Begin with a blank computer screen and a watch (or the clock on the computer). You might use a pad instead--freewriting involves generating words, not correcting them or getting just the right word.
- Set a time for yourself. Try one, five, or ten minutes. Longer times may not be that productive since free writing is a "warm up" for more focused writing.
- Begin to type or write about anything that comes into your head. Don't stop until the time is up.
- Then review what you have written. Are there words you like? Ideas that might work for the next project you are doing?
Focused freewriting follows the same process but begins with a topic:
- Put a topic of your choice, or even the topic of your next paper, at the top of a blank page.
- Set a time limit and begin free writing. This time, write down things that seem to be related to the topic. Do not worry about order of ideas or grammatical correctness. Don't worry if the ideas seem to be digressions.
- When time is up, look over what you have written. Pull out ideas and phrases you can use later.
- Practice putting the freewriting into outline form. If you were to use the writing to begin a paper, which points would you make first? Second?
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