what is “Freewriting” and why is this a smart thing for Writers to do?

Here is how writer and writing teacher Peter Elbow explains freewriting exercise and why it’s valuable.:

The idea is simply to write for ten minutes (later on, perhaps fifteen or twenty). Don’t stop for anything. Go quickly without rushing. Never stop to look back, to cross something out, to wonder how to spell something, to wonder what word or thought to use, or to think about what you are doing. If you can’t think of a word or a spelling, just use a squiggle or else write “I can’t think what to say, I can’t think what to say” as many times as you want; or repeat the last word you wrote over and over again; or anything else. The only requirement is that you never stop. . . .

Freewriting may seem crazy but actually it makes simple sense. Think of the difference between speaking and writing. Writing has the advantage of permitting more editing. But that’s its downfall too. Almost everyone interposes a massive and complicated series of editings between the time the words start to be born into consciousness and when they finally come of the end of the pencil or typewriter onto the page. This is partly because schooling makes us obsessed with the “mistakes” we make in writing.” (From Writing without Teachers)

You can read more of Peter Elbow’s discussion here. It’s a great excerpt because it explains clearly how the process serves us as artists.

Have you done a freewrite today?  I try to do a short one every day. This practice is based on the Julia Cameron practice of the “morning pages.” Her book The Artist’s Way, is a book that many artists swear by.  There and in her other books, she asks artists to write 3 pages or 750 words of ‘freewriting” a day.

We will do alot of this kind of writing in our class.


One thought on “what is “Freewriting” and why is this a smart thing for Writers to do?

  1. Reblogged this on Stephanie Barbé Hammer @ Magically Real and commented:

    We spend alot of time at Magically Real telling stories or talking about amazing other artists. But what happens if we feel sorta shy about making art — be it words, pictures, games, installations, collages, or heaven help us, a cake? What do you do when you feel stuck as an artist or bad as an artist or maybe like you don’t even get to CALL yourself an artist? You start with writing — you start with the freewrite. I’ve been doing them for years and years now. and they keep me connected to how I’m feeling, and they get OUT of my system what’s bothering me. So here’s Peter Elbow on how to do it and why to do it. Cheers and keep on righting. Happy Easter!

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