The benefits of free writing

The benefits of free writing

There’s no doubt about it: writing is tough. It’s a craft built on deep thought and self-discovery, both of which are emotionally draining and timeconsuming.

A few days ago I wrote a piece on why I think writers’ block is a myth, and how those that claim to be experiencing writers’ block are in fact just intimidated by the piece of paper in front of them. How they’re afraid of writing badly (which consequently stops those people from writing at all).

But writing is a learned skill, and like anything, learning requires patience and the ability to accept that you’re going to be bad at something, for a very long time.

When I started writing — now more than 5 years ago — I realised the best way to practice the craft was to free write, which is to say, I’d pick a subject or theme at random, consider the lede and go from there with no direction or end in sight.

Free writing is like getting into a car and just driving. There’s no destination to reach or goal to achieve, it’s all in the process, and process is everything.

Even bad writing is educational. It teaches you the art of patience and the act of thinking clearly and deeply. Free writing, then, is to the mind what yoga is to the body.

Here’s why you should do it, and regularly:

  • It helps you develop your abilities as a writer
  • It builds confidence
  • It drives inspiration
  • It helps excavate emotional themes and barriers
  • It promotes process and not outcome
  • It develops muscle memory and good habits
  • It helps you discover just how committed you are as a writer
  • It generates honesty in your writing

I implore you to free write daily, and to do so away from technology. Find a notepad and pen and get to it, it’ll change everything about the current way you work.