FREEWRITING is one of the most effective and easy forms of journaling. The idea is to write for a specified length of time (usually ten minutes), or to fill a specified number of pages, and not to stop until the timer’s sounded or the pages are full. What you write about is not important — only that you write and that you do it without stopping, without thinking, without evaluating or judging what you write.
The main benefit to freewriting as a journal writing method, is that you learn not to edit your words — or your thoughts. Sometimes previously repressed thoughts and emotions surface (you may be surprised at what you write), but then again you might write total incoherent nonsense for ten minutes. It doesn’t matter. Most of us have a compulsive habit of editing as we write, resulting in a repression of thoughts and emotions we consider unacceptable or “not good enough.”
When we freewrite, things are allowed to tumble out uncensored. 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.
Freewriting can also help you to:
- Explore emotional issues on a deeper level. For example, let’s say that you find yourself unusually annoyed or upset by something, and you want to figure out what is at the bottom of that annoyance. Freewrite about it. Set a timer and just start writing: “Such and such annoys me and I’m not sure why. It could be because when I was little, my dad …” and so on.
- Find subjects to write about. If you write (other than journaling), even just a blog, and aren’t sure what you want to write about, freewriting can help you find a topic. Think of a person, place, feeling, object, or event that is important to you and freewrite about it/him/her.
- Accept yourself as you are. This may seem simplistic, but if you can learn to accept what you write without judgment, you can learn to accept the person behind the words without judgment, as well. For most of us, this is no small thing.
If you’ve never tried freewriting, perhaps because writing for ten minutes without stopping feels intimidating, or you think that it’s unproductive and a waste of time, I invite you to give it a try. During the next week, freewrite three times, for ten minutes each (no more — freewriting sessions are intentionally short). Then leave a comment here and let us know how you feel about the process.
If you freewrite on a regular basis, I invite you to add to this Journal Writing Tip conversation by sharing how you have benefited from the practice.