The Free Writing Project

Fellow Writer’s, stand clear, I’m going to be obnoxious.

I am a firm believer in the act of Free Writing. If you’ve ever taken a Creative Writing class (with a Professor that was more interested in your bettering your writing and not making you read and analyze his own writing. Yes, I’ve had that Professor. Moving on), then you’ve probably explored the act of Free Writing once or twice. Many writer’s do them and toss the results, but this is a grievous crime, sirs and madams. Well, unless you really are just a freakin hack. Even still! Your hack writing might be the best thing you’ve ever read in a year.

My argument for Free Writing, on your own as much as in class, is that you have ideas. Many writers claim they don’t – they don’t write well in such a setting, or they don’t have any idea how to write a novel because they don’t know where to start or what to write about. Yes you do. You have everything you need to start writing, you just don’t know it yet.

Free Writing, stream of consciousness or with a start word, will allow your mind to drift and float, it will allow a freedom that is a learned ability which will carry you through a novel or story a lot better than an outline and rigid parameters. Do you want to sit down and pump out the regurgitated concepts that you’ve already mapped and lined up, or do you want to be as surprised as you want your readers to be?

You can find “Free Writing” posts throughout this blog. They are from my old notebooks or my current notebooks, and were unedited and untouched from the pages where I was told to write and not stop for two to three minutes. I am posting them as a part of the Project, and to keep them for my future use. You never know when some nugget of concept or character will jolt you into writing your Ragtime.

If you wish to jump onto my crazy band wagon, here are the rules:

The Free Writing Project – 

1. Vow to free write for three minutes straight, everyday. Let whatever comes come. Be it fictional, journalistic, Dear Diary-esque – it doesn’t matter, as long as you get into the habit of the writing.

2. If the writing brings story ideas, write them down and put them in a jar or notebook where you can compile them all.

3. You may choose your Free Writing approach – give yourself a start word, pull up an interesting picture of a person, a house, a place, an object, and let yourself write for at least three minutes on that image. Try to vary the approach if you can to see if different starters inspire you.

4. If you are working on a novel, writing your novel does NOT count toward the Free Writing Project.

5. Keep everything produced and set your first thirty days writing aside for a month and keep writing. At end of month, reread the pages of the first 30 days. Reread again at intervals and collect any story ideas or images that stick out. They may be the beginning or your (next) novel.

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3 thoughts on “The Free Writing Project

  1. Nice post, Caitlin. Brenda Ueland encourages free writing in her book ‘If You Want to Write’ which was first published in 1938 and it still holds true today. She explains how keeping a ‘slovenly, headlong, helter skelter diary” helped her to see that writing is talking and thinking on paper and that the more impulsive the writing the more it resembles thinking. She was all for the three or five minute writing exercise, even half a minute (that would be a tough one).

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