When you start writing, have you ever noticed what's going on in your brain?  Let's say you're supposed to write about . . . um, let's say, the weather.  So you might start by writing The weather here sucks.

Oops, your brain says, can't write "sucks."  That's slang.

Okay, so you erase "sucks" and put is bad.  But your brain doesn't like that, either.  It's so general.  So you try is terrible. 

Move on, move on, you tell yourself.  So you write on:  Yesterday, it was so hot, I burned my hands on the sterring wheel when I got in my car.

Isn't "sterring" misspelled? your brain asks. 

You erase "sterring" and try to figure out how to spell it.  (Or you wonder if it's really misspelled.  Sometimes your brain tricks you like that.)

What do you have so far?  Two sentences.  In how much time?  If you hadn't allowed your brain -- actually that's the editor part of your brain -- to step in every other second, you could have felt free to write anything you want.  And you would have written much more.  The creative side of your brain would have gone wild.

It takes awhile to teach your editor brain to butt out.  You have to practice.  That's what freewriting -- true freewriting -- is for.

The rules for freewriting are simple and few. 

  1. Write.
  2. Keep writing.
  3. Don't stop.

This means don't go back and check yourself, and don't reread what you wrote.  That only invites the editor to drop in and tell you what it thinks.  Just write what's on your mind.  A good amount of time is for ten minutes.  Set your timer so you don't have to keep checking the time (that, too, invites the editor brain in.)

Sometimes, put under such pressure, your mind freezes up.  Just keep writing.  Write the last word you wrote over and over.  You mind will get so bored, it'll come up with some new stuff.

Some people use freewriting to explore a certain topic.  That's called focused or guided freewriting.  If you want to do that, just keep in mind that if your mind insists on going "off topic," allow it to.  It may be saying that's not the topic you need to write about.  Besides, it's the editor brain that's trying to monitor if you're on topic or not. 

  This page last updated by Connie Gulick, Tuesday, May 18, 2010.