Freewriting Will Set You Free
There is something about freewriting that, well, sets you free. I'm one of those writers that agonizes over every single word choice, always has a thesaurus at the ready, and can easily spend an hour reorganizing a sentence only to have it turn out the way I wrote it in the first place.
But when I freewrite? I'm like a different person. The inner poet comes out to play.
In my teens I wrote poetry allllll the time. A line would come into my head fully formed and I would have to grab the nearest notebook and pen or risk losing it. Once the first line was down, the others followed suit. The poems practically wrote themselves. So much of it was angsty, full of youthful uncertainty, unrequited and requited love. Once I hit my twenties, I decided it was time to get serious about writing and to put away childish things. Namely, poetry. Serious authors wrote books. Right?
I stopped reaching for that notebook and pen when the lines came. And do you know what happened? They stopped coming. I didn't write a single poem for over a decade. I wrote a handful in my thirties, mostly because my writer's group developed a fun form of punishment if you hadn't reached the goal you'd set for yourself that week. Each member gave you a word that you had to incorporate into a poem. They gave me words like troglodyte, carnivorous, and bruxism. I wrote stuff that was mainly lighthearted and fun. Poems to be read and laughed over and never looked at again. By the time I entered my forties (only recently -- three years would be considered recent, don't you think?) I realized I missed that inner poet. I missed that burst of inspiration that visited at the most random times, filling my day with a little more excitement, a little more wonderment, a little more creative energy. But try as I might to make it gurgle, the well was bone dry. Then I discovered freewriting. You start with a prompt: just one single "spark word." You write that down, and then you keep on writing until you get to the bottom of the page. No capitalization, no punctuation, no indentation. It's one word association after another, with your brain stepping out of the way and your imagination taking over. There's no right or wrong, just write. (See what I did there?) And you know what? Every single time I've found gems hidden in the jumble that can be mined and turned into poems, or character sketches, or scenes, or scenery, or dialogue, ...
It's literally literary buried treasure. Last Monday was my birthday, and my husband bought me a beautiful three-pack of notebooks. Normally I hoard pretty things and never use them, just look at them admiringly from time to time. But I decided that life is getting too short to play that game any more. So I took the prettiest one, turned to a fresh, blank page, and in less than two minutes, I'd filled it with words. I started a freewriting journal! I decided I'm going to incorporate it into my daily writing time. I'll do an entry before I start working on my novel. Prime the pump, as it were. Hit the ground running. Already I was blown away by my first session. I have no feelings toward anyone in my life that resemble what poured out on the page. But it's clear as day that there's a relationship between two people, two characters, living and breathing and venting on that page. And that is worth exploring further. Who knows where it might lead?
Go ahead and read it for yourself. I know you're curious! I would be. And when you've finished, why not give freewriting a try? It might just set your inner poet free.