What ‘freewriting’ can do for you

In a recent class I taught, “Overcoming Writing Blocks,” several of the students found the freewriting exercises to be helpful. This term, ‘freewriting’, was popularized by Peter Elbow (see video above) in his book Writing Without TeachersHere is his description of what it is:

” The most effective way I know to improve your writing is to do freewriting exercises regularly. At least three times a week. They are sometimes called “automatic writing,” “babbling,” or “jabbering” exercises. 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. 


Here is what people who try it report:

•They are surprised at how much they write in a few minutes

•It lowers the stress involved in writing, and therefore makes it easier to write regularly

•They sometimes find useful gems in their freewriting that are useful in their writing projects

•It can by used as a way to warm up for a writing session

•It makes writing more enjoyable because they are not editing and judging as they create

•They thought it might be a waste of time, but it wasn’t

•That it is a useful tool for times when they felt stuck or blank or harassed by negative thoughts


Many writing gurus and coaches recommend versions of the freewriting technique as a tool for promoting the flow of writing. Try freewriting for 5 minutes a day this week and judge for yourself.

About David Rasch

Author, psychologist, speaker, teacher, consultant, workshop leader
This entry was posted in Common Writing Block Problems, The Blocked Writer's Book of the Dead, Tips for overcoming writer's block and procrastination and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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