Free Yourself with Free Writing

Life Lessons from 2010“It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

Amit Sodha, the fabulous and flirty guy behind the Unlimited Choice blog, recently challenged me, and a load of his other favorite bloggers, to blog our unedited thoughts.

He spontaneously discovered the power of free writing and is so excited about it that he wants us all to get naked with him – well, not in a kinky way.

Why is he so jazzed about free writing?  He says,

“I would describe the process as fearless writing. It’s writing without reservation or fear of being judged.”

Traditionally, the purpose of free writing is to help you break through any resistances, fears, or other blockages that are holding you back as a writer.  However, I found it also helped me move through emotional blockages.  And Amit realized he could “extract genius ideas from those ramblings.”

According to Wikipedia:

Free writing — also called writing free stream-of-consciousness writing — is a prewriting technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. It produces raw, often unusable material, but helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism.”

My Own Experiment with Free Writing

I first learned about free from Natalie Goldberg’s book – Writing Down the Bones – many years ago. But I never really tried it out.  Amit’s enthusiasm piqued by curiosity.  So I decided to give it a go.

As background, I should let you know that I recently began journaling about old memories, somewhat freestyle.  I wasn’t strictly following the rules of free writing though.  (By the way, I don’t spend an excessive amount of time focused on the past.  But, sometimes it can help you to heal and move forward.)

This time, I decided to free write correctly.

Usually in free writing, you pen without a topic.  But it’s OK to use a topic, if you wish.  I chose the sense of frustration that has been leaping up in my mind lately.  I started out with the thought, “Why do I have this frustration?  Where is this frustration coming from?”  I wrote freely for a full 20-minutes.

The impact was incredible. The process took me deeply into the emotional pattern.  When I reviewed the piece, it revealed with lucidity the root of the congestion.  The experiment took me a step further to breaking free of this unhelpful reaction.

I followed the rules.  Although I began with a topic, I didn’t constrain myself to that focus.  I wrote whatever thoughts and emotions came into my mind without regard to grammar, punctuation, and so forth.  That was hard for me to do because I type quickly and instinctively add punctuation as I go along.

There is a point to letting go of the punctuation and grammar though.  It is far more freeing.

In addition to profound emotional insight, I found I was able to write 700 – 800 words in the space of 20-minutes.  This amazed me since it takes me far longer to write blog posts.  As you might recall, I’m always looking for ways to speed up my writing.

As free writing promises, my inhibitions melted away.  I see the power free writing holds to loosen up the mind, heart, and writing. I will definitely be adding the technique to my healing toolkit.

Mini-Mind Challenge:  Free Writing to Free Yourself

This week, instead of offering a topic for mental reflection, my suggestion is to try free writing. Try it for just 5-minutes or longer, as I did.  You can write by hand or on the computer.

You could free write to loosen up your writing without a specified topic.  Or you could free write on a challenging emotion or stumbling block in your life.  My version of the later focuses within – on oneself – rather than being merely a rant about someone’s behavior.

Here are simple free writing instructions from Wikipedia:

“The technique involves continuous writing, usually for a predetermined period of time (often five, ten, or fifteen minutes). The writer writes without regard to spelling, grammar, etc., and makes no corrections. If the writer reaches a point where they can’t think of anything to write, they write that they can’t think of anything, until they find another line of thought. The writer freely strays off topic, letting thoughts lead where they may. At times, a writer may also do a focused freewrite, letting a chosen topic structure their thoughts. Expanding from this topic, the thoughts may stray to make connections and create more abstract views on the topic. This technique helps a writer explore a particular subject before putting ideas into a more basic context.”

The main point is to keep writing for a designated period of time.   Don’t stop to review or judge the output.  You can see examples of free writing at Re: Verse Verse.

Thanks for the Free Writing Challenge, Amit

Thanks for the idea, Amit.  Free writing was a powerful experience for me all thanks to you.

Now, about that challenge to blog my unedited thoughts…  I’m not going to do that today.  For one, I don’t necessarily equate being fearless with random sharing.  But then, maybe I’m just terribly repressed!

Have you ever tried free writing?  What was your experience with free writing?  Would you post your unedited thoughts on your blog?

This article is part of a weekly series of reflective exercises to help you – and me – uproot limiting thoughts, emotions, views, and habits. See more mini-mind challenges.

If you liked this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks so much! Sandra