Free writing: it feels good to be free

Free writing will change your life…or maybe not.

“You want me to just sit and write? Alright…”

This was my inward response during a writing course I attended last year when asked to sit and write for ten minutes.

Based on this response, you might assume I’m not much of a writer. Hopefully the 117,000 word romantic suspense novel called Radiant, I’ve just published here, proves otherwise – but it did raise some interesting questions, like “should I be doing regular writing exercises?”

Now, like many of you, I have a LIFE. Family, work, and other regular commitments monopolise our time, making it hard enough to find time to write, let alone adding writing exercises to that list. Besides, it kind of sounds like homework doesn’t it? Groan.

Freedom v. obligation – find out what works for you and your writing

So, back to the course. I wrote for ten minutes. It was OK. It wasn’t life changing and then I got back to my regular routine of you know, writing my book! Kind of more important if you ask me…

Then a funny thing happened. As I started interacting with other writers during my self-publishing journey, I began reading and following blogs and via this, have been exposed to different writing styles and approaches.

Now, my approach (just in case you are wondering) is pretty straightforward. I’m goal orientated (yes, I’m a plotter). I’m writing a book. So when I sit down to write, I write the book. Makes sense, or at least I think it does.

“But what happens when you get writer’s block?” you ask.

Usually, I do other things. I listen to music, write some music, watch a movie, go for a walk and let the creative juices flow in other ways while I’m waiting for my subconscious to figure it all out. And then I get back to writing – whether I like it or not.

Give yourself permission to let the words flow

Writing freely should have a sense of freedom, not a feeling of obligation

Writing freely should have a sense of freedom, not a feeling of obligation

Recently, I came across the blog of another indie author, Victoria Sawyer, and her book, Angst, which I’m reading right now – although it should be known it’s not for the faint hearted! Check it out, it’s a refreshing approach to YA. It’s real and it’s raw and it’s honest.

Victoria blogs regularly about life, writing and general angsty stuff and I became inspired by her posting some of her poetry and other random writing on her blog from time to time.

So much so, that when I actually got a quiet half hour last weekend and was sitting with my cup of Earl Grey, basking in the late afternoon autumn sun (bliss) – words started to hit me, as it seemed, from nowhere.

Instead of playing around with them in my mind as I usually do and then relinquishing them, I went inside, grabbed a pen and paper (also unusual, I’m more of a laptop and keys type of girl) and went and sat back down and just wrote.

I wrote a poem as it turned out. Well, at least I think it’s a poem – it’s kind of just a jumble of words scrawled onto paper that ebb and flow.

And then it occurred to me: I had just completed a free writing exercise!!!

It also reminded me of something. Sometimes, it’s good just to give yourself permission to let the words flow. It might be for ten minutes, half an hour or an hour. It might be every day (if you have time or your a journal type of person) or it might be once a month.

It doesn’t matter. Just let the words flow.

Free writing can help you rediscover your love of writing

I also realised that this was how my love of writing had evolved in the first place. As a child and teenager, I spent hours writing whatever I wanted (clearly I had more time on my hands!) But it was just for me. Not for anyone else. To express myself.

Somehow in the transition to adulthood, I’d left that behind and it’s nice to rediscover or remind ourselves of that love of writing every now and then. Here’s some of the benefits free writing can bring:

  • it’s therapeutic to write without a goal in mind
  • sometimes it’s just nice to write because you are a writer
  • other times it’s just nice to write for you and not for an audience
  • you’re writing! Which means you’re practicing your craft
  • by not focusing on the issues at hand in your current writing project, it can help you to work through them – yeah, I know, try and figure that one out!
  • it’s fulfilling and enjoyable and reminds you why started this painful writing gig in the first place.

Lastly, let’s just not call it a ‘writing exercise’ alright? Because that just takes all the fun out of it!

Do you ‘free write’ regularly? What techniques or approach do you find works best for you?

Although I wrote it for me, I thought I’d share it with you to give you an idea of what writing freely can bring:

Autumn Wings

Breathe in

Feel your soul release

Picked up and carried by the wind

Let yourself soar to new heights

The world looks different from up here

Tree tops wave to me

Glittered gold by the sun’s rays

My soul basks in the radiant heat

Warmed to the very core

The last days of summer are gone

But still the sun holds on

Refusing to admit defeat

Stand still

I beg you, to stand still

Don’t miss this day

This glorious day

In its honesty

There is truth

The answers that your soul long seeks

Whisper fleetingly in the quiet breeze

They brush past your shoulders

Cool fingers

A caress

You only need to stop, listen and breathe

It’s been there all along

This gentle peace

This feeling complete

It’s been there all along

Neither within nor without

Your scattered mind

Your relentless life

They do not serve you well

This calm, this comfort

hangs right before you

In the air you breathe

The daylight offers a silent reprieve

And still you refuse to believe

I said, stop!

Just stand still

The sun is soon to set

But still it hangs there

An ageless promise

Of past, future and present

Cast your will to the wind

Open yourself and let it in

This slow descent

This quiet release

For you are part of the whole

Neither small nor powerful

You just are

Here

Forever is the blink of an eye

Gone before it begins

I beg you

Please, please stand still

Soon it will be gone

Catch this moment while you can

Fresh, raw, alive

For summer is gone

And autumn sings her sweet song

Her crisp, playful breeze taunting the sun

Soon her tune will turn cold

Her smile lost to regret

Did you stop? she will ask

Did you stand still?

Catch the moment

Don’t forget

A long, cold winter awaits

Treasure this moment

Hold it fast

Make it last

Make it last

Stop

Stand still

Breathe

Release.

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