If you want to know what freewriting is, try this out: Grab a piece of paper (or open a document on your laptop, PC, or tablet), set a ten-minute timer, and just write. As for what you should write – write anything and everything that comes into your head. For those of us who are used to meticulously planning every piece, section, or even sentence of our writing, freewriting might seem like a terrifying prospect. However, it isn’t about crafting the perfect sentence, rather it is about finding liberation in your writing and connecting with your authentic self – unlocking your creativity is just a happy byproduct of the process.
74% of people in the UK are stressed to the point of overwhelm, with many of us also suffering from anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Although we often don’t consciously realise it, we carry many of these anxieties with us throughout the day; they can seep into our work, zapping us of our creativity. Writing a journal is a proven way of combating stress and anxiety, with Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way recommending that we complete our entries first thing in the morning. She suggests filling up to three pages with stream-of-consciousness writing. The best thing about freewriting, in Cameron’s words, is that: “There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages.”
Decompressing through a journal helps clear your mind and heightens your awareness of any anxieties or problems in your life that might be holding you back. When you do start the day and come to complete your work, you’ll bring the most proactive, self-aware version of yourself to your creative pursuits.
Staring at a blank page can offer us endless possibilities – but it can also strike fear into the most motivated of wordsmiths. Anyone who has ever tried to write a novel, poem, or complete a personal statement for university, will know the paralysing feeling of staring down the blank page. Utilising free-writing reduces this problem – you don’t need to prepare the perfect manuscript, but rather let your ideas flow naturally. You might use a few ideas from your freewriting sessions – or none at all – but that doesn’t matter. It’s about giving yourself permission to experiment and freeing yourself from perfectionism or self-judgement.
Are you baffled by the Philosophies of Nietzsche or confounded by Cognitive Science? By freewriting about a complex topic, you can begin to break it down and simplify it. Freewriting about something you’re trying to understand is effectively like talking to yourself on paper. But don’t pressurise yourself to come up with a solution or expect instant results. Whilst the process of freewriting might not give you all the answers, you’ll gain insights into your thought processes, uncover creative ideas, and perhaps even experience that flash of recognition that leads to a greater understanding of the material.
Freewriting will change everything you’ve learned about how to write, and it can be challenging to take the leap into a whole new process. Yet if you commit to practicing free writing – whether it be through a journal, essay planning, or when writing fiction – you may just discover writing’s best-kept secret.
Jessica is a freelance copywriter and content writer based in Richmond-Upon-Thames. With a degree in English Literature from University College London, she has experience as a private tutor for 14-18 years olds and adult learners. She has also worked in Widening Participation as a Mentor, Student Ambassador, and Student Leader. As someone who achieved A-Levels through distance-learning, Jessica has first-hand experience of the unique challenges and rewards that distance-learning offers. She regularly contributes content to educational websites including eNotes and Tutorful.