Writing paper, pens and phone

Freewriting in WriteFest20

I’m hosting a full time writing retreat as part of WriteFest 2020 which in our virtual times includes 2-two hour blocks of focused writing time. Thanks to the vagaries of Collaborate I need to post a quick message every 30 minutes or so to prevent us being deemed inactive and booted out. My 90 minute message was about freewriting and was aimed at those who might have struggled through the morning without making progress.

Freewriting was introduced to me by one of our long-term collaborators at IAD – Mimo Caenepeel who has run writing workshops for us for many years. Mimo starts many of her sessions with a bout of freewriting and I come back to this technique every time I find my own writing frozen.

Freewriting involves writing without stopping. You don’t stop to think, you certainly don’t stop to criticise or edit. You let the words flow and enjoy the process of flow – the output isn’t important and can be binned – reminding yourself of how good it can feel to write.

Mimo’s starting phrase is “When I write, I…” and I use it regularly to get my own flow to return. However, sometimes I need other prompts and found some examples written for novelists and creative writers on MasterClass, a writer’s resource. Amid the many adverts for their services, there was a list of 13 prompts for freewriting and I decided that for my own writing retreat blog, I’d try to create some for researchers. These may not work, but the next time your writing freezes, why not come up with your own prompts to help find your flow.

  1. If it works, my research will …
  2. I can’t write today because …
  3. I’m important in my research field because …
  4. To be a success, I need to …
  5. The last time things went I wrong, I …
  6. If I was starting again I would…
  7. My favourite piece of research writing is … because…
  8. This writing will change my career because…
  9. I am a researcher because …
  10. This would be easier to write if …

These aren’t tried and tested beyond myself, so I have no idea if they will transform your productivity, but I’ve used a few variations on these to get some key things written lately – presentations, job descriptions and even tricky emails. They help to take away the concern of getting things exactly right and bring back the habit of writing.

It’s worth closing this blog with a reminder that protected time probably has more impact than anything else, so make sure you sign up for a writing retreat or writing hour if that will help you make some progress.

(Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay)

(Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay)

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