Ok so for the past few weeks I have been trialling the concept of free writing. That wacky concept where you just write whatever is in your head with no filtering whatsoever and the only rule is that you cannot stop the pen from moving. Or in my case cannot stop the keys from clicking because using pens is for chumps. And you know what… I like it. It is a really handy tool for getting the creative juices flowing, for getting all of your thoughts down onto paper so you can sift through them for anything that may or may not work, and for just cleansing your mind.
I’ve heard of this technique before, but I only started looking at it seriously as a writing tool in the last few weeks after watching a video of Tim Schafer demonstrating how some of his best ideas have come from free writing. I would link the video but it is exclusive content for those who backed the new Double Fine game. If you want to see the video, you can become a slacker backer and register here:
So how has the trial been going? Well this is an early morning thing for me. I set my timer for 30 minutes and I just start typing, usually starting with a few lines about how I’m feeling, what my sleep was like last night, how excited or unexcited I am for the rest of the day. I then think about a goal – where do I want to start steering my mind? Sometimes I think about one of my works in progress, sometimes I think about an assignment I have due, and sometimes I cant think of anything so I keep writing “blank, blank, blank” over and over until some weird thought enters my mind. The goal, if you are typing, is to keep your fingers moving, so for a 30 minute session you are going to aim for a target word count anywhere between 1500 – 1800 words, or 50-60 words per minute. If you are a slow typist then you should use this as an opportunity to improve. If you can type faster than 60 words per minute and wish to point that out well good for you, go collect your medal as the winner of everything.
I guess the most important thing to note is that it’s ok to ramble, it’s ok to keep repeating yourself, it’s ok to be rude, vulgar, illiterate, or childish. The only rule is don’t stop writing, not for a second. It gets easier as you do it. The words start coming quicker and quicker, your fingers struggle to keep up with how fast your brain is going, and you find that 30 minutes really isn’t enough time to get down all those crazy thoughts that have been pent up in your brain for months and months. Below is a sample of my free writing from today, just to give you an idea of how my brain skips around:
I am writing a lot of words at the moment I mean look at this document, has it seen an improvement in my touch typing skills… well not this morning. Probably because of the lack of banana, water, and breakfast in general. The coffee was good but it is not enough to sustain the creative side of my brain. I need a muffin, a choc chip muffin, just something to keep me going at the moment. I’m thinking about writing some fiction that is not fantasy, maybe something based on my life, the problem is my life is not all that interesting, I don’t have a lot of conflict, everything seems to work out. Maybe I just need to introduce some drama into my life, maybe that way I can get some conflict, maybe I can tell a story about a guy who is running out of ideas to write about so he creates drama in his own life and it backfires big time. That might be a good thing to write about, that might be a great thing to write about, who knows? I am just observant, people think its weird to stalk people on facebook and twitter, but no I don’t think so, maybe I could write a story about the facebook stalker, someone who gets off on finding a profile that has not been set to private, look at this girl, she is hot, and she is putting these pictures up of herself, wow, so it looks like she has done some part time modelling, she loves vampire books, werewolf books, supernatural books. From the looks of her 4square check ins she gets a coffee at the same place, almost the same time every day, im going to start going there and watching her, maybe I’ll get the chance to meet her, maybe we can go out some time, I could be interested in all the things she is interested in, I look at all the stuff she watches, she likes to watch all these TV shows on Get Glue, she likes to do a bunch of different things.
I find that it has helped to tighten up my typing skills and that it makes me far more productive at work and in my writing projects. So give it a try. You never know, you might find you like it.