Free Write Against the Blank Page

A Guest Post By Kimberlee Ferrell.
Enjoying small town life and her two daughters, Kimberlee Ferrell still carves out time to write. Her blog, Freedom Writing, explores writing, parenting, and anything that flows out of her pen. Stop by to investigate the inner workings of her mind, and to learn more about her copywriting, proofreading, and editing expertise. Strong coffee and walnut brownies will be provided.

The blank page stares me in the face again. I am trying to write this post, but the lack of words on the screen paralyzes me. It causes the greatest writers among us to freeze up, and decide to wash the dishes, walk the dog, or do anything else but stare back at the empty canvas.

As writers, we face this on a daily basis. With each new article, blog post, or short story, we come full circle, to give birth to a new idea, to share our words with others. We turn to a fresh page in our notebooks or turn on our processing program, then stop. The glaring white page is empty, and our minds fill with doubts. “Where should I begin?” “What should I write about?” “Does anyone care about what I have to say?” “Are there really any original ideas?”

These thoughts and doubts can instantly send your muse to a vacation in the Bahamas, without you. There is a way to rekindle your writing: the free write. Many writers have used this technique to work past their writer’s block, and write no matter how they feel. I first discovered this exercise in Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in free writing, or just looking for an excellent read. She illustrates how to free write without expectations, and how to mine your first draft for those golden nuggets of exposition.

There are many ways to free write, and there is no one right way. There are two key techniques that I use when free writing. I set a timer in my head or on my desk, to give myself an immediate deadline. I also never stop writing for any reason. Do not be tempted to fix your spelling or grammar, save it for the editing phase. Choose one of these free writes the next time your fingers refuse to hit the keyboard.

Write the thoughts running through your head. When your inner editor casts doubts on everything from your lack of vocabulary to what you ate for breakfast, get it out on paper. Write whatever is bothering you at this moment. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and just keep writing every random thought that enters your head, whether it is related to writing or not. Let your mind dump its cluttered thoughts onto the page, and then set it aside. Your mind can relax, knowing you have addressed whatever was bothering you. Plus, you have written a few hundred words. Keep the momentum going, and dive into your writing project.

Write anything about your chosen topic. Sometimes you don’t know where to begin. Give yourself permission to dive headfirst into your topic, and write anything about it. Don’t worry about writing a captivating lead, or placing your thoughts into logical order. Cover the length and breadth of your topic, as the ideas come to you. You can always organize it later. This technique unearths new ideas I hadn’t considered before, adding depth to the final draft.

Write down topic ideas. This free write can be written traditionally, or in list form. Brainstorm a list of anything you want to write about. You can write a list of article titles, blog ideas, or conflicts for your main character. Once you have exhausted your list of ideas, go back over each and write a few sentences to flesh out your idea in more detail. This technique generates a lot of new leads over a short period of time.

Write something completely different. When your current project is wholly uninspiring, try writing something in a different topic, genre, or format. For example, if you are having trouble writing another SEO article, write a few pages of your novel instead. Once you’ve given your brain some free time, you can switch back to your project and get to work.

These are just a few of the possible ways you can use free writing to rejuvenate your writing juices. Once you start to write, the words come quick and easy.

The key is to sit down, and just write.

How have you incorporated free writes into your writing life? Do you have any other types of free writes to share? Leave a comment to let everyone know what works for you when you encounter the blank page.




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