Definition of a Free Write

I used Free writing while home educating my children. Sometimes (maybe most of the time), they really disliked it. I found it more effective for me than them. So, I have adopted it as a way to get what is on my heart down on paper (or in the computer) before I start writing in the mornings. Most of what I write is pretty "G" rated, and I am fine with others reading it, but this is not a public blog accessible on any search engines. Most would have to be connected to it some way, and I have been surprised at who is reading. Sometimes people come up to me at church and say, "What you wrote really helped me cope with this or that."  I have no idea how they found my blog!

I really understand the rules of writing and grammar and am an excellent speller. That said, I often type so fast that I do not notice all those things as I let my fingers fly. 

ADDITION: I think my kids like their free writes. As Paul was writing his ten page research paper for college this week, he told me what he would do during free writes in a favorable light. By the way, one of his college instructors told him he was the best writer in his class of 30. So, I am a big proponent of free writes and the methods!

Here is a Definition of a Freewrite from Wikipedia:

Free writing is a prewriting technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. It produces raw, often unusable material, but helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism. It is used mainly by prose writers and writing teachers.[1][2] Some writers use the technique to collect initial thoughts and ideas on a topic, often as a preliminary to formal writing. Free writing is not the same as automatic writing.


Peter Elbow advanced freewriting in his book Writing Without Teachers (1975), and it has been popularized by Julia Cameron through her book The Artist's Way (1992).
Natalie Goldberg principles to develop freewriting encouraged in undergraduate and creative writing programs. Writing practice encourages the writer to be aware of their thoughts throughout the writing practice, and may be an end unto itself, rather than a means to produce a more polished piece. (Carol: that would be me. I am not writing for polish or publication.) 


The technique involves continuous writing, usually for a predetermined period of time (often five to fifteen minutes). The writer writes without regard to spelling, grammar, etc., and makes no corrections. If the writer reaches a point where they can't think of anything to write, they write that they can't think of anything, until they find another line of thought. The writer freely strays off topic, letting thoughts lead where they may. At times, a writer may also do a focused freewrite, letting a chosen topic structure their thoughts. Expanding from this topic, the thoughts may stray to make connections and create more abstract views on the topic. This technique helps a writer explore a particular subject before putting ideas into a more basic context.
Freewriting is often done on a daily basis as a part of the writer's daily routine. Also, students in many writing courses are assigned to do such daily writing exercises.


Free writing is based on a presumption that, while everybody has something to say and the ability to say it, the mental wellspring may be blocked by apathy, self-criticism, resentment, anxiety about deadlines, fear of failure or censure, or other forms of resistance. The accepted rules of free-writing enable a writer to build up enough momentum to blast past blocks into uninhibited flow, the concept outlined by writing teachers such as Louise DunlapPeter Elbow, and Natalie Goldberg.[3]
Free-writing is all about loosening and limbering the thought process, not about a product or a performance for a student or a writer.[4][5]

[edit]Use in education

Often free-writing workshops focus on self-expression, and are sometimes even used in teaching to elementary school children. There is no common consensus on the acceptance of this technique.[6]


Here are the essential rules that are often formulated for the beginners or students, often a paraphrase of Natalie Goldberg's "Rules for Free Writing," [7][8] often referred as Natalie Goldberg's first four rules of writing[9][10]:
  • Give yourself a time limit. Write for one or ten or twenty minutes, and then stop.
  • Keep your hand moving until the time is up. Do not pause to stare into space or to read what you've written. Write quickly but not in a hurry.
  • Pay no attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, neatness, or style. Nobody else needs to read what you produce here. The correctness and quality of what you write do not matter; the act of writing does.
  • If you get off the topic or run out of ideas, keep writing anyway. If necessary, write nonsense or whatever comes into your head, or simply scribble: anything to keep the hand moving.
  • If you feel bored or uncomfortable as you're writing, ask yourself what's bothering you and write about that.
  • When the time is up, look over what you've written, and mark passages that contain ideas or phrases that might be worth keeping or elaborating on in a subsequent free-writing session.
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