Exercise: Need an idea? Try a free write.
Stream-of-consciousness exercises are a great way to overcome one of the hardest parts about writing: getting started.
Free writing is a technique that comes in handy when you’re having trouble choosing a topic to write about, or when you can’t manage to make it past that first sentence or two. It’s also an effective way to combat self-critical thoughts and anxiety about deadlines.
Here’s how it works:
First decide how long you want to free write for, then set a timer. Five to ten minutes is a good start, but feel free to challenge yourself with a longer session.
Ready? Go! Don’t prepare anything — just start writing everything that pops into your head, regardless of how nonsensical or bizarre it is. Don’t even bother with grammar and punctuation — just keep your fingers typing, and don’t stop until the timer goes off. (If you find yourself on a roll, by all means, keep writing!)
The final step? Analyze the results.What sentences catch your attention? Did you find a new way to articulate what’s on your mind? Did you remember something funny or interesting? Did you explore a new perspective on an issue?
Remember that free writes don’t have to generate lots of usable content to be valuable. They’re simply intended to help you generate new ideas, organize your thoughts, and get unstuck.
Here’s a ten-minute exercise to get you started (use your browser’s back button to return to your work after time is up). If you give it a try, let us know how it goes!