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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Generating Ideas: Freewriting

Freewriting (also called stream-of-consciousness writing) is the activity of writing everything that pops into your mind when you think about a certain topic.  If you can’t think of anything to write about the topic, then you literally write “I can’t think of anything to write” over and over until you an idea eventually comes to you.  

Sometimes, freewriting is used without any specific topic in mind.  When that’s the case, the purpose of the writing isn’t to generate main points for a topic, but to come up with the topic itself. 

For those who have never seen freewriting and are very confused about what its final result should look like, I present to you the following example.  It is the result of asking  my students to freewrite for one minute about “Dogs”:

Dogs are furry slobby animals that shed alot This is retarded I just cant focus we’re supposed to be wriitng about dogs ok ok they are man’s best friend and stuff and loyal and smell butts and I remember watching the movie all dogs go to heaven when I was little but i actually really prefer cats cuz theyre easier to take care of and leave you alone when you eat and -

If it looks messy and disorganized, that’s because it is.  It’s supposed to be, actually.  This freedom from the constraint of grammar rules allows one’s mind to direct more energy towards coming up with ideas. 

I personally don’t get very much out of this exercise because my innate desire for order recoils at the thought of scribbling random thoughts without first creating an outline.   However, if you’re completely out of ideas and staring Writer’s Block in the face, freewriting is worth trying at least once. 

What doesn’t work for me might just work for you. 


Photo credit: TonyHall


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