Creative Writing Exercises #6: Seven Days of Freewriting
I haven't written any creative writing exercises for the site in about three years. In that time, I've written over two dozen books and I've learned a great deal about what makes me tick as a writer. One habit that has had a huge impact on my writing productivity is the practice of freewriting.
Freewriting is the act of sitting down for some amount of time and writing steam-of-consciousness on a certain subject. I've used freewriting to help me devise solutions for nagging issues, come up with beats for a fiction story and brainstorm for speaking gigs. I've even used freewriting to come up with a new workout plan. If you have something that requires original thought, freewriting is one of the best ways to get what you need. For the purposes of this creative writing exercise, we'll focus on using freewriting for creative purposes.
For the next seven days, block out a 15 to 30 minute block of time. This time should be the same for each day of the week and you must keep that time sacred. Don't skip a day and don't let yourself be distracted. At the start of your first session, take a piece of paper, a laptop (with the internet disabled) or an electronic keyboard (like a Neo2) along with a timer of some kind and go into a room where you can close the door. Turn off all possible distractions (put your phone on airplane mode, etc.). Decide on a general topic for the writing session, such as a blog post, your next book project or a character you'd like to explore. Set your timer and start writing.
For the next 15 to 30 minutes, write down all of your thoughts on the subject you've chosen. Let one thought flow into the other thought without censoring yourself. Don't worry if a thought seems stupid; there is no such thing during a freewriting session. Try to keep writing no matter what. Even if you go off topic, just keep writing until the timer goes off.
For the next six days, repeat the process until you've gotten through an entire week of freewriting.
The first time you sit down to work on this creative writing exercise, it may be difficult. Your mind may wander and you may have trouble keeping your fingers busy for the entire writing session. This is natural and after a few freewriting sessions you should get the hang of it. The trick of the exercise is to keep writing until you get into a creative flow state. This is the feeling you get when you aren't actively thinking as you're writing. The words flow naturally. It's when time slips away and you write a much greater number of words than usual. One of the most important points of this exercise is to get you to realize what it is the creative flow state feels like. If you can set aside a little bit of time every day to achieve that feeling, you'll be well on your way to being an every day writer.
Once you get through all seven days of the exercise, try to get in another week of freewriting. If you're successful with that, go for the month, quarter and year. Who knows, if you freewrite every day, you might just become the writer you've always wanted to be.
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.