I was listening to a good audiobook recently on the writing process called Accidental Genius. The premise of the whole book can basically be summed up in one sentence: Free writing does a body good.
The act of free writing (of putting down things on paper without thought to what you’re putting down, why, and if it’s even legible) is something that every writer can and should learn on a daily basis.
But — importantly — free writing is not just for writers. For me, this has been the biggest takeaway by far in the book, and the learning I’m most excited by.
There are a few key reasons for this.
- Free writing gets the juices going and gets the writing (and thinking!) process to flow. The concept of getting your writing juices flowing is for most people this is the only real reason they think free writing exists. Because you are trying to write something and you are stuck. Because you don’t have a clue what to say. Because you’ve got to say something. And this is a good reason. Free writing does get the energy unblocked in your mind and gets your fingers clacking across the keyboard as they should. But this is hardly the only (good) reason that free writing works. Free writing also gets the thinking juices flowing. And who needs to think? Well, everyone. (Not just writers!)
- Free writing tells you what you know. Are you trying to better understand a complicated relationship or business transaction? Are you having trouble wrapping your head around a particular problem? Writing down what you know via a free write may be just the ticket to helping you sort out your thoughts and tell you what you know, and what you need to know in order to move forward.
- Free writing helps you come to conclusions. Just as free writing helps you figure out what you know and aids you in identifying what you need to know in order to move forward, free writing will importantly help you made decisions and come to conclusions. And I’m not just talking about making lists of pros and cons. Free writing (even for non-journal keepers) is an excellent way to truly make better decisions.
Have you used free writing in your personal or professional life as a tool to helping you process ideas or make decisions? Has it worked? Why or why not?