The best way to overcome writer’s block is to learn how to free write. Many people are familiar with this technique, where you set a timer for a specified amount of time and write freely.
It might sound easier said than done when you are struggling for new ideas, but even if you start out jotting down things like “the sky is blue” or “the grass is green,” eventually the creative part of your mind will take notice and jump in to join the fun.
Free Write for General Ideas
Free writing is sort of like fishing. You get your line ready (grab your pen and paper), bait the hook (write your topic), then start fishing (writing). You might throw some back in the water, but it will be worth it when you finally reel in the big one.
To do this for general ideas, there are no limits – although it might take some practice.
Without a topic in mind, you would think it would be easier to come up with something, but with such a wide open field, it’s natural for your mind to go completely blank.
When you don’t know where to start, that is when you should just write anything.
- Set a timer for 3-5 minutes and start writing about everything from the color of your computer to the color of your curtains.
- Keep writing until the timer goes off.
- Write about how you don’t know what to write about, how you feel about it, what you should do now, and so on.
- If something else pops into your mind, go with it and write that down, too.
- Don’t think, just write.
Different people have different opinions about how long you should set the timer. As you become more comfortable fishing for new ideas in this way, you can set it for whatever time limit you prefer. Longer or shorter, it doesn’t matter as long as it gets you writing again – especially if it also gives you inspiration.
Free Writing with a Specific Topic
Using the same method as above, write a specific topic on a piece of paper or type it in a word processing program on your computer. Sticking with the topic (rather than writing generally), set a timer for 10 or 20 minutes and pen down anything that comes to mind about your chosen subject.
Since you have a topic in mind this time, writing for a little longer might give you more freedom to explore the things that come to you.
As mentioned, don’t think about what you are typing. Just keep going.
When you are done, read over what you’ve written. It might not make much sense at first, but the more time you spend free writing (try to schedule a few minutes at the same time everyday), the easier it will become and the better it will work.
|Tip: When you limit your free writing to a certain timeframe everyday, you are training your mind to expect those few minutes as the time to brainstorm. You will find that you feel even more creative as new ideas compete to fit into the new time slot.|
Benefits of Free Writing
"When we freewrite, things are allowed to tumble out uncensored," Amber Lea Starfire says on WritingThroughLife.com. "Thus, freewriting clears the mind and emotions of clutter, relaxes some chaotic part of us, and allows us to then address important issues with a clear head. When used as a writing exercise, freewriting helps us find our natural rhythm and voice."
Beyond clearing the mind of clutter and helping to find one’s voice, a few other free writing benefits are:
- You will feel more creative.
- You will write faster.
- You will become more comfortable writing.
- You will learn to write now and edit later.
- You will be open to new and unique ideas.
- You will have less stress writing.
- You will look forward to writing again.
When you read over the things you’ve written, the parts that had felt like tangents while you were writing will most likely be the ones to catch your attention.
Without realizing it, you could have a treasure chest of ideas inside of you just waiting to be discovered. And all you needed was a timer to get you going.