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  • Kraig Brachman

How to Free Write


Free writing is a powerful tool for everyone at any skill level: for those just starting out writing English to professional writers wanting to push and play with the language. Free writing is a lot like a basic exercise, good for everyone who does it, and is foundational for higher activities. It is an inexpensive and practical way to work on your penmanship, practice your word recall and spelling, stretch your creative muscles, or maybe do some mental processing of a complex event that happened.


How to Free Write

So, what do you need to get started free writing?


First, you need something to write on. While you can type or tap out sentences on a keyboard or mobile phone, it is highly recommended that you get some paper and a writing utensil – it doesn't have to be fancy, but a pen/pencil should be reliable enough to write without interruption and paper that is lined.

Second, find a quiet space or a place where you can concentrate; I recommend an office, café, or heading to the library. Play non-lyrical music or something you can zone out, sit somewhere you can relax, feel comfortable, and won’t be bothered. Make a cup of your favourite tea or other delicious drink you enjoy. The point is to set yourself up somewhere you will be willing to stay for the duration of the exercise.

Third, set aside some time to focus on writing. Schedule a block of time to get set-up and schedule another time within that blog that you must get started by; the key is to set a time and stick to it, thinking you will just find the time won’t lead to a conducive free writing experience. For those just starting free writing, set 30 minutes aside.

Fourth, set a five-minute timer and...

Fifth, start writing and don’t stop. Write anything, everything, and nothing of substance, just write! The goal of a free write is to get out of the way of yourself and get into a writing flow state; you stop thinking about what’s good or bad about your writing, you are just writing. This is why it’s important to use a pen/pencil and a piece of paper; there are fewer barriers between you and your writing, fewer barriers mean more writing and less fuss. And sixth, congratulations, you just wrote something! Now that you have completed your free write, you can do what you want with it: throw it out, put it in a draw and forget it, edit it, rewrite it, whatever. It’s up to you! The point of this exercise is to practice and create, and you’ve just done both.

Conclusion

Like anything, writing takes practice. Spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and creativity will come slowly if you study and work on the skills, but it takes persistence, intention, and routine. The free write is just one tool you can keep in your tool belt. Also, don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back as you take time to look at the progress you’ve made – it'll help keep you motivated.

If you are looking to join others who are also working on their reading and writing skills, or in need of support, sign up for one of our free Reading and Writing Circles programs. You can contact programs@furthered.ca or 403-250-5034 to sign up or learn more.

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