|Several weeks ago, I started a newsletter for writers. The newsletter is a free service. It goes out every Friday by email and is packed full of prompts and writing tips. This blog is an excerpt from the very first newsletter. If you like what you see here, and you want to receive the newsletter every week in your mailbox, simply drop me a note: julieAT SIGNcentauriartscamp.com
Today, I’d like to introduce you to the writer’s best friend: the Free Write.
What’s this? It’s a way to beat the blank page, the blank screen – to help your words flow freely.
Imagine that your passion was dance, not writing. Would you ever slip out of your winter gear and leap immediately onto the stage to give the best performance of your life? Of course not. You’d warm up first. Prepare your mind, body and spirit for the process of artistic creation. The same is true for writers. We need to warm up. Flex our muscles. We need to begin, and to do so without pressuring ourselves to produce anything of quality at all.
A ‘free write’ has no strings attached. You expect nothing from it other than the free flow of words for ten whole minutes (or whatever length of time works best for you). It may give you more: a terrific phrase, a great idea for a story. Mostly, it won’t, and that’s okay. All it needs to do is get you started.
So, here’s your first ‘free write’! There will be more in the coming weeks. Get comfortable. Remove distractions (especially your phone). Check the clock, read the prompt and start to write. Don’t stop for ten whole minutes. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, structure, or any of the other technical facets of writing that can sometimes hinder the free flow of ideas. If you run out of things to write, then write about that! Allow thoughts and images to meander at will. When ten minutes are up, stop writing. Read what you’ve written. Decide if you can make future use of any of it, and if so, make some notes. If not, that’s okay, too. You’ve started. The page is no longer blank. And even if you have no time to write further, you’ve still written something today!
Free Write Exercise
Select an object that has no deep personal meaning for you. Examples: a hairbrush, an empty candy tube, a scarf. Place the object in front of you. Now, choose one emotion from this list:
ENVY REMORSE ANGER
Using the emotion you have selected, write in the first person, describing the object in front of you. For example: you may choose to write from the perspective of someone running a scarf through her hands while fighting feelings of envy for the person who owns it. How does she describe the scarf? How does envy affect her choice of words? How does the narrative unfold as her attention moves from the scarf to other things around her? What specific event has caused her to feel such envy? What does she do next? Remember, the object and the emotion you have chosen are only a starting point. Your free write should be allowed to meander freely wherever it wishes, while you follow. This exercise can be repeated as many times as you wish, with a different object and emotion selected every time.