Why Non-Writers Should Learn to Free Write

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.
All in all, free writing is an incredible tool that everyone should learn to use. Even if you’re not a writer, you can benefit from it. Truly.
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?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “Why Non-Writers Should Learn to Free Write

  1. @Claire Diaz-Ortiz
    I had on and off relation with free-writing. Initially when I discovered it, it did help me in writing my MS thesis…and do my homework.

    But once during my ph.d. I had a big writer’s block..and free-writing seemed not that helpful. I could not come over my block for long time.

    Someone suggested to me that in place of stopping doing free-writing, if I continue doing it as much time it takes that may probably help.
    I did exactly that…it took three days of 10-18 hours free-writing to get rid of my block, and start writing again.

    But this made me feel that free-writing could be panacea to all my problems. And I started doing free-writing very intensely to solve my all sort of problems.
    Example I thought I could device new experiments with the help of free writing, etc.etc.

    Well, it may work, in that way…but not all problems can be immediately solved, and free-writing needs to be done in balance.

    The office colleague who used to sit near me got pissed off by my this habit of continuous pouding on my laptop!….he also felt that this is very strange habit!
    so there was negative vibes…and free-writing stopped helping me..

    I am again returning to free writing now…
    But I do not think it is panacea to solving all the problems. And I also do not want to do extensive , longer free writing every now and then.

    I want to instead use it as a form of “pre -writing”…not as substitute to writing.

    I want to do it mainly to solve my problems related to some writing project….for thinking/ideation..I may use it but would not think that all problems can be solved immediately..by using free-writing as heuristic.

    Also main use of free-writing i any writing project is that it helps to find one’s own voice…in place of writing in some dead english, one would write through the felt-sense.
    And I think free-writing does help in that.

    So this is where I stand with free-writing at this point in time.

    I am really interested in knowing your thoughts on what I have thought.

    Happy scribbling!

  2. Very well framed. All of the joint-family members appreciate the habit of writing.

    I have found it useful but still couldn’t make it a habit, I tend to suspend writing for a long interval (days) though

  3. Claire, based on your recommendation, I read Accidental Genius, and it really resonated with me. It also struck me as a great way to overcome writer’s block. Just write anything. Gobbledygook. Just get it down. Thanks for recommending good stuff.

  4. If I accomplish 10% of what I have gleaned from Ms. Claire already, I will be a huge success! I am an hour into reading all I can find from her and her posts. 14 shades of awesome! She actually tells us what to do and how to do it! Ahhhhhh! I have my marching orders Ms. Claire. I thank you a thousand times. How do I thank you that much, simply by now……………… following what you have so graciously opened my mind and heart to! Thank you Lady.

  5. Hi, this post is very helpful for new bloggers like me. It gives confidence and also motivates to write more. Claire you are doing a great job. Keep it up.