Inspiration is a fickle mistress.
Creative bursts are almost always unpredictable.
As I drove home from work yesterday, a line popped into my head that so perfectly allows me to begin my new book that I whipped out my phone and used the voice recorded so that I wouldn’t forget it. I got home, and wrote for a few hours, accruing eight pages and a much stronger beginning than I had last week.
One of the things I like to do when I’m stuck is free-write. It was the best tool that my writing professors used in college and grad school, and I use prompts in my classes now to get my students thinking and brainstorming.
I want you, my readers, to get involved in the discussion. Writing is all about communication, and communication is vital. If you’re stuck in your own head, unable to speak your mind, or you’re in a creative rut, trying a free-write can really open doors and windows and get you motivated.
You don’t have to be a writer to do a free-write.
You don’t have to be a writer to WRITE.
You just have to be able to open up and be free and have the ability to watch what happens.
Find a pen, a laptop, a napkin; grab your boyfriend/girlfriends arm – if that’s what you’re into – and just write!
- Write nonstop for a set period of time (10–20 minutes, more if you just can’t stop).
- Do not make corrections as you write.
- Keep writing, even if you have to write something like, “I don’t know what to write.”
- Write whatever comes into your mind.
- Do not judge or censor what you are writing.
- JUST. WRITE.
Don’t think about what you’re going to write about before you write. Don’t think about what you want it to say. Just let your ideas flow, allow your pen or finger tips to run unbridled. Don’t edit and micromanage everything. Don’t fret over everything single word. Don’t focus on grammar or spelling or sentence structure.
Allow for stream-of-consciousness.
Free-writing allows for discovery. So DISCOVER. It won’t be perfect. Nothing ever is. Who cares? Just allow it to simple BE.
One of the best things that can come from a free-write is an idea. A seed, a nugget, a whisper of a concept that intrigues or inspires or unblocks you. What bubbles to the surface can – and often will – surprise.
Here a few prompts to get you started. When you’re done, leave something in the comment section and let me know how it went. Did it help you? What do YOU think about the free-writing process?
Remember: You can interpret these prompts however you’d like…
- Begin with “There was once a chance I didn’t take.”
- “Every exit is an entry somewhere”
- Open an old photo album to a random page. Pick any photo on the page you turned to. Think about that picture and everything it made you feel. Write.
- Close your eyes and picture the person you hurt the most in your life. Or the person who has hurt you the most. Think about the person, describe them in your mind, picture them as clearly as if they are standing in front of you. Then think about all the good things that person has done to/for you. Write.
- Open a (physical, i.e. print) magazine or newspaper, pick the first headline you come across and write a story.
- Pick one of these words and write about this word as if it were a newly discovered creature: Snickerdoodle, Pantaloons, Chrysanthemum, Onomatopoeia, Codswallop, Boobie, Flummox, Gobbledygook, Hobbledehoy, Hootenanny, Kerflufffle, Nincompoop, Tatterdemalion, Mollycoddle, Lickety-split, Kumquat.
- Listen to this song:
- What are you afraid of? Why?
- Write about how you think you are perceived by someone – anyone – else.
- Haiku: Full moon on new snow / and in the corner / an open can of white paint.
- Use this picture. Write.