From the moment I could write, all I needed to be happy were pen and paper – and maybe chocolate. There were no restrictions, no rules to follow – only me bringing my thoughts and stories to life.
For me, writing was a way to communicate and a way to express my feelings. As the shy and introverted girl, I often felt unheard and unseen – and in many situations, that was not just a feeling.
My elementary school teacher would encourage me to start a journal and when I asked her: “But how do I know what to write about?” She simply answered: “Just start with the first word that comes to your mind and let your imagination do the rest.” That was the first time I got introduced to the concept of free writing – and it was beautiful.
I started free writing at age seven and today, 26 years later, I want to share with you, why this magical tool is great, even if you are not a writer.
#1 Free writing when you experience a writer’s block
Hint, not only creative writers or authors experience writer’s blocks! Maybe you are currently writing your thesis and you just do not know how to proceed. The words don’t seem to flow anymore, but there is a deadline.
When I wrote my academical papers, I often suffered through a writer’s block and then got super stressed, because the deadline came closer and closer – without mercy. One day, I remembered how much I still loved free writing for journaling and also when coming up with short story ideas – and I thought, I don’t have anything to lose, so I tried it.
Of course, free writing also helps when you currently write a novel!
How to do it: Take a blank piece of paper or a new page in your journal. At the top of the page, you can write one word, or one sentence related to your thesis or novel – maybe the title, or the title of the chapter you feel stuck with. And then, let it flow intuitively. Don’t write with any expectations in mind – what you write down here doesn’t need to be perfect, it probably won’t go into your thesis or novel, but it will give you a new perspective and motivation.
Important: When writing freely, our subconscious mind starts to make itself heard and seen. Maybe, you find a deeply buried idea for your novel, or you see a better way to approach a certain problem within your thesis. Eventually, you will experience the joy of being in flow while writing and that will give you just the motivation you need to proceed.
#2 Free writing to find out what you want in life
As children, we paint a colorful and lively picture of how our lives should look like when we are adults – and everything seems possible. But for most people, me included, life takes different turns and the social conditioning we experience throughout out childhood, teenage years and even as adults, dictates how big our dreams are allowed to be and what we can expect.
At some point, you might wake up, living the life of a person, but certainly not yours – that’s your rebellious intuition trying to guide you onto the right path – only for you to realize, you have no idea what you truly want anymore.
Luckily, we have the free writing tool to help us out.
How to do it: Open your journal on a blank page and start with the words: “As a child, I always dreamt of…” and then start writing whatever comes to your mind. Or, if you cannot remember, you can start with: “If I could start over, I would…” and let it flow. Or, in case this seems too big right now, you could simply start with: “My ideal day starts with…” and then intuitively write down what your perfect day looks like.
Important: While writing down what comes to you intuitively, the ideas or dreams might seem too big and you might think to yourself: “No, that’s ridiculous, I cannot write that down.”. It is super important here, that you ignore this thought immediately and just keep on writing without judging whatever comes up! It doesn’t mean that you have to change your whole life and make everything you wrote down a reality – but you will get an idea of what is missing and you can start to take the next right steps to create a more fulfilling life.
#3 Free writing for a more relaxed mind
When I started with the free writing as a little girl, I had the intention to inspire my creativity – to find stories to write about. But very soon, I would write about my anxiety, my problems, my worries and my creative writing tool turned into a way to heal, to free my mind and be more relaxed.
Every morning I would try and get up early to have a few minutes to myself and it soon became a habit. A very appreciated habit, because after writing down anything that came to my mind, I felt relieved. I would write about my dreams or nightmares, my fears, my hopes and everything that normally would’ve circled through my mind all day – by writing it down on the pages of my journal, I was able to let all of the negative or stressful thoughts go!
How to do it: Free writing to relax your mind is the same as journaling, but without any questions or expectations. You have probably heard about journaling prompts and I love them, whenever I want to tackle a certain issue. But to really get everything off your mind that might cause stress or anxiety during the day, I recommend to start with an empty page, no theme, no question and simply write down what comes to your mind. Everything that needs to be heard or seen in that moment, will come through!
A truly magical and relieving experience!
#4 Free writing to inspire your creativity
Like I said, my teacher recommended this tool to help me explore my creativity and find stories I wanted to write about. And it worked like magic. When you’re a writer or poet, you probably have at least a vague idea about what you want to write about, but maybe lack a direction, or need a little push to start writing – this tool can help.
The last time I used it to inspire my creativity, I wanted to write about my body, but I had no idea where to start, whether or not to include every single body part. So, I wrote down each body part on top of a page and I started to write about what came to my mind. In the end, I didn’t like what came up, but I was able to turn it all into my latest little poem called “body” – read it here.
How to do it: Again, find yourself a blank page and a pen and write your idea down at the top of the page. From there, you start writing down whatever comes to your mind. It can be related to your whole idea, to one single word, or even when you start questioning your idea at all – write it all down without judging or holding back. Let your intuition guide you and ignite your next story, novel or poem.
Important: As you can see from my example, maybe you write something down that you really dislike, but don’t let that discourage you – it might show you a new, unexpected direction.
Enjoy the process of free writing!