Free Writing is honestly a life-saving technique. I mean that both figuratively and literally. It has the power the save your life. I’d say it also has the power to save your business. Either way, you don’t have to be in need of saving to reap its enormous range of benefits. There’s something it for absolutely everyone.
What Is It & Why Do It?
Free writing is perhaps best described as an advanced form of journalling that can be used to preempt another, more focussed piece of writing. Be it an academic study, a novel, a business book, a marketing blog, a presentation, your next Medium article, writing as a means of therapy, or writing for creative expression.
It involves writing for an indefinite period of time with no real purpose or focus.
You do not need to decide what you’ll write about before putting pen to paper, and in fact, the less you plan for it, the better. The best free writing sessions have no preset end time. You could find yourself writing for 10 minutes or several hours.
So what’s the point exactly? Writing in this way clears you of all distractions, obligations and, therefore, pressures. It reunites you with your raw self and allows you to explore your thoughts and emotions without judgement or any assessment of their value whatsoever. Everything that comes out is welcome and encouraged.
As you can probably imagine, it’s liberating. Empowering. Interesting. Individualist. It’s purely creative. It allows to see yourself for who you are and how you’re feeling at that time in a way that’s totally safe. You can broaden your understanding of your own mindset and create deliberate shifts in your thinking as a result.
As far as catharsis and therapeutic needs go, free writing is one of the best forms of it out there. And it’s free of investment as well as free-flowing. You might choose to share your writing with someone once you’re done, or you might choose to shut your notebook or laptop and never revisit it again. It’s up to you.
I personally wouldn’t recommend sharing it, simply because that person’s reaction could stay with you which changes the nature of the exercise. You might end up writing to impress rather than free writing.
The benefits of doing this if you’re an entrepreneur are vast. The daily demands of business take their toll on us sometimes. Wouldn’t you agree? As much as we love the strategy side of things and working “on” our businesses, how much of your week do you honestly spend doing that stuff.
So many business owners are actually stuck working “in” their business most of the time. When they do get time for strategy and growth planning, their energy is spent. It takes a big mindset shift to go from chipping your way through a long to-do list of customer-facing/administrative/communication-based tasks to big-picture planning.
Free writing puts you back in touch with yourself. You will reconnect with your sense of purpose, and move the mental traffic jam that builds up and blocks your natural, creative flow.
I bet if you were to start free writing, by the time you’re done you’d have the bare bones of a blog post or a marketing video without even meaning to make one. You’d get that presentation done in a fraction of the time. You’d have started your book. You’d also regain that sense of having a crystal clear vision of where you are and where you want to be.
I use free writing to plan my year ahead. Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I start around September/October free writing to get those creative cogs turning and my higher self activated. That, in turn, becomes brainstorming. I then come back to my brainstorm a day or maybe a week or so later, and carry on like this until November/December. I repeat this process until I’ve narrowed down and crystalised exactly what I want to achieve during the next calendar year.
I then give my goals and as a result, my year, an overall theme. I write all of this up neatly, decorate it, and keep it somewhere I can see it. Approximately halfway through the year, I’ll see if it needs an update based on what’s changed. So it really helps keep me on track and moving forward. And it starts with free writing. I suppose it’s similar to a vision board when used in that way. It’s what works for me.
I also practice free writing whenever I need a performance boost. I recommend it as a technique to my clients when I’m helping them write their books. Some take to it like a duck to water, others find it awkward at first (which is even more reason to practice it).
It releases thoughts, beliefs and emotions and can result in greater shifts in your perspective far quicker than they’d ordinarily happen. Free writing creates movement and flow.
How do you do it?
Hopefully, you’re sold on free writing as something you must absolutely try. If you need a prompt to get going, here’s a good one:
- Turn off all distractions: phone, music, office noise if possible, other work. Make sure no-one can talk to you. Just don’t put headphones on.
- Get a blank page and a pencil, or open a new document on your laptop.
- Write what you are thinking or feeling at that precise second. It doesn’t matter what it is. “I’m hungry”, or “I don’t know what to write”, or “I wish those people talking would shut up”. Doesn’t matter, it’s all welcome.
- Ask yourself questions about that thought and answer those questions, in writing, until you’ve completely unpacked them all or until you’re writing freely. You probably won’t even notice it happening; it just will. “Why am I hungry? I only ate an hour ago. I guess I didn’t have much for breakfast. Must get into a better routine with that. Probably going out last night didn’t help. It was fun though…” etc.
- If it doesn’t flow quite so easily, move onto another question. “How am I hungry?” “What am I hungry for?” “When should I be hungry?” “When am I normally hungry?” “Where did I last eat?” “Where shall I go for lunch/tea?” So you can see, an ordinarily banal thought can suddenly blossom into an entire conversation. It will then remind you of other things, other thoughts and other questions. You can write about those too.
- If you’re still not feeling it, start with your sense. What can you see, taste, feel, smell, hear and sense, right now in this moment? My article on effective writing tips should help.
- Remember, no need for a timer! Just go for it and let it happen.
Writing, at its core, is sharing. So what if that isn’t with anyone else? Sharing your thoughts and feelings with yourself to gain a heightened level of consciousness you’d otherwise struggle to access is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Especially if you’re working towards some ambitious goals. Writing is sharing, sharing is love and love is the highest form of energy.
Give it a go and let me know what happens afterwards. I promise you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it the whole time!