Making Time to Free Write

There is a power and strength to the free write that never ceases to amaze me.

It’s funny because I haven’t let myself truly and honestly engage in a free write in a very long while. A free write is a writing exercise where a person writes whatever comes to mind for a certain amount of time. If a writer is going to free write for ten minutes, they write for that full ten minutes nonstop, flowing from one thing to the next, following stream of conscious instead of directing thoughts. Normally when I sit down to write, I set out with a purpose. I usually have revisions or drafting or research that I need to do for projects in progress, and if I start with the intention to “just write”, it’s almost always for an idea I already have or with an end goal in mind. I very rarely anymore (since Free writing or not) sit down to just write with no intention, goal, or purpose other than to play with words. Last week I was inspired by my husband, who was playing his guitar without a goal for practice or recording in mind, to sit and free write. I started with a venting session about the times and dealing with remote learning and such and then the free write slipped into poetry. The joy and power of the thoughts I was able to get out of my mind and onto the paper was so wonderful. I simmered in that space for the rest of that night and when I worked on my manuscripts later that week, there was more space in my brain to work.

I worked more on MS:SB last week, though I managed to write myself into a corner that I need to work myself out of. I was revising a chapter, writing a new beginning to it, but found that after nearly 1,000 words I wasn’t where I needed to be to get where I was going to the other 800 words I’d wanted to connect back to. I know I need to clean up the first part and reroute my character’s path and that will allow the scene to unfold more effectively. I also thought more on my manuscript for Nanowrimo and in talking about it with my husband realized that my title is wrong. It didn’t match the core of the story or the ending for the trilogy. That manuscript is no longer MS:R, but MS:A. The new title is such a better fit and it’s made other ideas about the character and story start to fire off in my brain.

This week I’d like to sit down to free write at least once at some point. Where I have several projects I’m actively working on and ideas for those jamming up in my mind, I want to do something to free some space. I’d also like to do a couple of short story exercises for both MS:SB and MS:A. I have ideas for things I think will happen in both, but I don’t know where those ideas are meant to end up. Doing a short story exercise where I write a few scenes and meander with my characters will help me figure out what they want to do, how much of what they’re chasing ends up in the story, or winds up being informative back story. Each exercise is helpful and powerful in moving my stories closer to their best end draft.

If you use free writing exercises, how does it help you in your projects or manuscripts? Is free writing something you engage in regularly as part of your writing process? In case you haven’t been told today, you are more than enough.

Happy Writing!

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