Writing is like exercising – you have to warm up first. ‘Just write something’ is usually the advice given by the experts when you have writer’s block or are struggling to produce something good enough. Today, I read an interesting article called ‘Go with the Flow’ by Helen Yendall (Writing Magazine, October 2011). In her article she suggests that flow writing, also called ‘stream-of-consciousness’ or ‘free’ writing can help you tap into your subconsious by bringing your thoughts, feelings and ideas onto paper (or on the computer) in one steady flow.
How does it work?
The secret to ”flow writing’ is to write or type quickly without editing and certainly without stopping to think. If you do get stuck, you just write ‘I cannot think of anything to write’ over and over until something else kicks in.
The article inspired me to try this technique today, which means that I can give you my honest opinion. I found a new notebook, set the timer for five minutes and started writing anything that came to my mind and as fast as I could. Below are the first 101 words of today’s entry in (what I’m going to call) ‘my warming up’ notebook:
“Today is the first day that I am starting this ‘free writing’ idea. I got it from a Writing Magazine – I think the most recenty one Sept or Oct 2011, but it sounds like my sort of thing. I’ve written for as long as I can remember and I love it. You are supposed to just write down any thoughts that come into your head as a sort of warm up to the real writing, but then afterwards you might find some gems hidden. My hand is hurting already. I might use this exercise as an idea for my blog today………..”
…as mentioned I haven’t shown all of it, but I actually wrote 214 words in total – not bad for five minutes work. On reading it back, I even found a few lines that I could use in my personal blogs sometime (http://sandramadeira.wordpress.com).
Does anyone actually do this?
As explained in another great article (in the following link: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/composition/brainstorm_freewrite.htm), some writing tutors use ‘free’ writing at the start of each class as a warm up. This article also suggests an alternative to this, by picking a topic and writing everything you know about that instead. They also have a tool on their site where you can practice this exercise in a blank text area. It even has its own timer!
My thoughts: I loved the ‘free writing’, although I don’t think my hand would take more than five minutes of writing at that speed! I am going to continue doing this either in my ‘warming up notebook’ or on the computer. I believe it could be very insightful and interesting.
Whether you are sitting on a park bench, just about to get out of bed or just about to go to sleep, ‘flow writing’ could inspire your next writing piece or maybe even give you a stream of useful ideas. If you are finding it hard to get started, I urge you to find a piece of paper or a notebook and give this a try.
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My writing challenge: http://wp.me/p1x6Ui-4
This blog: https://mywritingnotebook.wordpress.com
My other blog: http://sandramadeira.wordpress.com
My website: www.tipsandluxuries.com (includes the introduction to my upcoming book ‘A Gift for Stressed and Busy Parents’)
Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries
‘Go with the Flow’ by Helen Yendall (Writing Magazine, October 2011)