You’ve heard of it. First thing in the morning, you write like crazy, non-stop, whatever comes out.
One incorrectly spelt, grammatically dubious sentence after another.
You do it for a set time, maybe 10 minutes. Or a set number of pages, maybe 3 sides of A4. Then you stop.
The claim is that this daily brain exercise increases productivity and creativity – clearing the mind of random or negative thought streams before the day gets underway. It is believed to reduce stress levels, and anxiety and encourages a ‘mindful’ approach to daily life.
In 1934, Dorothea Brande wrote a book called “Becoming A Writer”. In it she advised readers to sit for thirty minutes every morning and ‘free write’ – as fast as they can, without stopping for thought, grammar, spelling or even sense.
Dorothea believed this ‘free flow’ of writing would beat ‘writer’s block’. Overcoming fears, anxieties, apathy, and self-criticism.
It has been a technique used by writers since Dorothea’s assertion that it might be a good idea.
It has reached out beyond creatives and had a recent resurgence. Benefits are now promoted by counsellors, pyschologists and therapists, as a way of dealing with trauma, deep emotional issues, and a place to channel nervous energy.
Four major benefits of freewriting.
1 Positive Focus
Because you don’t edit or correct yourself as you write, the exercise encourages the same practice in life. Rather than fretting over every word, step or decision in life and going back over old mistakes, freewriting helps life to flow. We worry less about life’s ‘spelling mistakes’.
Like meditation, when the practice of freewriting gets underway, nothing matters in that short time frame but the words flowing out onto the paper. Counsellors encourage the practice to get rid of angry or negative emotions.
It’s why a time limit is set. 10 minutes. 3 sheets of A4. Write, flow, lose yourself but for a set time. Like meditation. It relaxes our minds and hearts and shouldn’t feel like a chore.
3 Increases Creativity
Freewriting increases creativity. Mornings are when the brain is at its ‘loosest’. Closer to the subconscious thoughts of dreams, and not yet full of daily problems. The practice strengthens the brain muscle. You may get better at writing, but you will get better at allowing ideas to flow in your mind. Your creative approach to life gets more developed. It’s just practice.
4 Develops Self Trust
You begin to trust yourself more. Freewriting is like saying to your brain ‘go on then, do what you like. Come up with whatever hair-brained crazy nonsense you like’. Exactly the opposite of how we go through our normal day.
And your brain does. It comes up with stuff that surprises, maybe even amazes us. And it gets better at it. Rather than not trusting that we’re doing or saying the right thing. Doubting that we’re being the ‘right person’, freewriting trains us to just trust in our selves. Let it go, throw it out there are trust it will all be ok.
You don’t have to be an aspiring novelist to join in this one. Freewriting can be the best start to anyone’s day and one of the best habits you can have. Tomorrow morning, make your tea or coffee, grab a pen and pad (freewriting shouldn’t be done on a computer) and just see what happens. You might be surprised. Enjoy.