Wordplay Wednesday : Free-writing
Over the past few months we have explored words and played with them in a variety of ways . The purpose behind those activities was to demonstrate the potential that words possess. Used purposefully they can reveal, inspire, inform, entertain, engage, and more. By playing with words in different ways for a short exercise, a writer becomes more comfortable and confident in wielding them for a specific purpose.
The next step in playing with words is Free-writing, which is the equivalent of an artist’s warm-up sketches she may do before tackling her main work or the scales a musician undertakes before playing a piece of music. It is writing practice of a short duration that helps limber up the writing muscles and get them ready.
In Free-writing you use a word, phrase, or quote as a starting off point for your writing. It is a way of stimulating thinking, not a writing assignment. The words or phrase may end up not being used at all if your thinking takes you in a different direction. The purpose for having a starting point is so that you don’t find yourself staring a blank page frozen by indecision over what to write about.
Writing practice should occur on a regular basis. Set a schedule for yourself that works. Daily writing practice is ideal, but not always practical. Decide how many days you will practice and stick to it.
Writing practice is best done by hand. The physical process of writing longhand creates an important mind-body connection.
You need some type of bound paper and a pen. You can use legal pads, the marbled composition books or spiral notebooks. I make a bulk purchase of inexpensive 1 subject spiral notebooks when the office supply stores are having sales before school starts. By using something that does not cost much, I free myself up to throw words down on the paper with abandon. Choose a pen that you enjoy writing with and always have a spare handy.
Write the date at the top of your paper.
Set a timer for 15 minutes. The purpose of the timer is to set parameters so that you will start writing quickly. You don’t have time to worry too much about each word when the timer is counting down. Just write!
Write the prompt at the top of your page. Read it over and then start writing whatever ideas pop into your mind. Don’t edit your words. Just write them down and keep going. Ride the wave of your thoughts wherever they take you. You might write a memory, a poem, a scene, a character sketch or, an essay. Don’t decide beforehand, just let the writing take the form it needs to take in the moment.
Keep your hand moving until the time is up. If you cannot think of what to say, write that. Your brain will quickly tire of “ I cannot think of what to write about” and it will come up with an idea or image to get you back writing.
Do not stop to edit, cross out ,or re-read until time is up. This is not the time for worrying about spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Just get those ideas and thoughts on the page. You can pretty them up later if you wish.
Write what matters to you. That’s where the power and magic live. This is not school, so you don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone but yourself.
Read aloud what you have written. The process of hearing your own words aloud is a way of discovering and honing your unique writing voice.
Now for the prompts. You may be wondering where the words and phrases for writing practice come from. I get my best prompts from reading. When I read, I always have a pen and something to write on nearby. I usually stick several index cards in the books I read. They make great bookmarks and are also handy for writing down words, phrases, or quotes that I want to remember. When filled up the cards migrate to my desk and wait until I need a prompt for writing practice.
The best prompts are ones that resonate with you. If it makes an impression when you are reading, then it will likely make a good prompt for writing. Collecting prompts is something I enjoy. I encourage you to do that as well. However, if that is not your inclination, keep reading.
Each Wednesday, I will post 5 prompts that you can use for your writing practice during the week. I will also post some of my writing from the previous week’s prompts. Let’s do this together!
The most frightened I have ever been
Thanks for nothing
Give yourself permission to….
Embarking on an adventure