Freewriting: The Hunt For Thoughts
Updated on January 22, 2023 by Team ShineSheets
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How do you combine creative writing, journaling, mindfulness, brainstorming, and psychotherapy into one practice? We seem to have found the panacea: freewriting. But as you can see, the range of freewriting applications is much wider. Read our article on how to do it right and get the benefit.
What is freewriting, and what is it for?
Freewriting is a technique that involves freely mechanically writing down your thoughts in a time-constrained environment without editing.
This article could be summed up in one sentence: take a pen, and write whatever comes to mind on paper for the next 10 minutes. However, like any other business, there are many nuances to talk about.
First, let’s define what freewriting is for:
- Finding new ideas. Essentially, freewriting is some form of written solitary brainstorming. Freewriting will allow you to find new ideas for yourself and not get to the point where you have to google “write my essay for me cheap.”
- Of course, it’s not meditation in the literal sense. But it is a very good tool for expressing one’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions and, at the same time, a mindfulness practice. This technique is also used in psychotherapy.
- Freewriting technique. Freewriting is used by writers as a daily practice and to overcome dead ends and the “fear of the white paper.”
There’s a reason we wrote in the title that freewriting is a mind hunt. Freewriting slows down our thinking and helps us see what we normally don’t notice. To find something hidden, elusive, and unseen. And now, let’s find out how things work in practice.
The rules of freewriting
Regardless of what purpose you are writing for, certain rules should be followed:
- Set a timer. 5-10 minutes is enough, but if you want more, you can. A time limit will be an added incentive to keep going if, for some reason, you don’t succeed.
- Write without stopping. Whatever comes into your head. The main principle is that you don’t have to think about what you’re writing about. You have to write what you think about it. If nothing comes to mind, just write, “I can’t think of anything.”
- Write quickly and without editing. We think at more speed than we write. And so, any edits or stops will interfere with the freewriting process. You’re free to do whatever you want – don’t let grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc., bother you. The main thing is to get your thoughts down on paper as quickly as possible.
- Relax. Don’t see freewriting as some difficult task that you have to complete. It’s more like fun. Take it easy. Remember, you need maximum relaxation.
- Write with a pen. In addition to being a more natural method that will help you loosen up, handwriting engages more parts of your brain.
Globally, freewriting can be divided into three areas: meditative, psychotherapeutic, and creative. Already from the name, it is easy to understand what each of them is used for. The first two are for self-development practice. The second is for the search for new ideas. And accordingly, each of them has its own characteristics.
This variant of freewriting implies two leading goals: to write out (by analogy with “to speak out”) and to go deeper into oneself. By writing your thoughts out on paper, you allow them to emerge from your subconscious mind. Just open your brain’s faucet, and you’ll see all that flow that has been held back for so long. Not only does it help relieve stress, but it also helps you look at yourself from a different perspective.
In fact, meditative freewriting is a classic version of this technique. You take a piece of paper and just write down whatever is on your mind. You don’t ask yourself any questions, and you don’t choose a topic.
This is something in between creative and meditative freewriting. Its purpose is to work through specific topics that concern you. Fears, worries, dilemmas, dead ends, existential questions. In this case, you can ask yourself leading questions in the process and consciously develop the thought that arose. You have to reveal to yourself as much as possible the topic of concern.
This is the same single-written version of the brainstorm we mentioned. The algorithm is simple: choose a topic and write everything you think about it for a certain period of time. After you analyze what you have written, highlight the most interesting ideas. For each of them, you can conduct another freewriting session.
One of the popularizers of freewriting, Mark Levy (who wrote the book Genius on Demand), has some tips on creative freewriting:
- One Hundred Ideas. Come up with and write a hundred ideas for your chosen problem. Anything, the craziest and most fantastic, that has at least something to do with it is suitable. The main thing here is to loosen up your brain.
- Pick five professional terms from your field and write everything you think about them.
- Use assumptions. Write about how your problem might have been handled by someone else.
As you can see, it’s simple enough. But, of course, freewriting doesn’t end there. We wish you success!
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