Have you ever tried ‘freewriting’?

Freewriting is a very useful technique to get ideas flowing. We often start criticising ourselves before we even start writing, and look at a blank page without knowing what to start. This is when freewriting is useful. Because you never stop thinking – and freewriting is about writing down your thoughts before your internal editor gets in the way!

There is only one rule for freewriting: don’t stop writing! For a certain period of time, you are not allowed to stop writing. If you can’t think of anything to write, then you just write, I don’t know what to write, until another thought comes to you.

You can use freewriting to get ideas for a piece of writing, or an essay. For example, if you are writing about feeling like an outsider, make yourself write for five minutes on this topic. It may be that you go onto something else in your freewriting – that is fine! But the process will free your mind and help you get some ideas to start with.

Draw on all your senses in your freewriting – what you see, hear, taste, touch, smell.
And give yourself permission to write badly! Freewriting is getting your creative juices going, it is NOT a finished product. No crossing out, going back or reading what you have done till your time is up.

Many writers use freewriting as a way to warm up. What you write can often surprise you as you often become aware of thoughts and ideas that you weren’t conscious of before.

Quite a few people also use freewriting to work out what they are feeling – it can be helpful to write down what you are feeling, and if you don’t know where to start then freewriting gives you permission to start wherever your thoughts are right now, as you are not creating a piece of work – you are catching your thoughts as they happen.

Once you have finished your freewriting, read over it with a fresh eye, and see if there’s anything you want to use or improve for your more polished essay.

So get a pen, and paper, and put on alarm to ring in 7 minutes. The prompt you are going to use is: ‘I remember…’ Start your first sentence with those words and then finish it however you like. Your next sentences can be about that memory, or about a new one entirely. When you get stuck, start another sentence with ‘I remember’.

Once you have finished with your freewriting, read it over carefully, and underline at least three phrases or sentences that you like.

Just for fun, here are some poems that were inspired by this freewriting prompt. They are NOT examples of freewriting itself, though, as they are structured and put together well, unlike freewriting, where anything goes.

I remember wearing shoe polish

I remember being locked up

I remember coming to South Africa

I remember being carefree