Have you ever heard about ”free writing?” I was impressed with this idea, which was introduced by my professor in my Introduction to Sociology class so I met with Robert Reilly, professor of social work, to discuss this topic farther.
What is ”free writing?”
‘Free writing’ is a very specific writing style. There are a few rules, one of the most important rules is that once you start writing, you have to continue doing so. You need to write down everything that you are thinking about. You may run out of ideas and your thinking can get a little bit confusing, but you can’t stop. If ‘blah blah’ comes to mind, write it down until you come up with new ideas.
Can you give an example?
I ask you to write everything you know about elephants. You start writing and you can’t stop. You might begin with “Elephants are very big. They live in Asia. Ah, let’s see. I don’t know…..” and so on! Write down whatever is on your mind. That’s it!
What should we do with our ‘free writing’ papers?
What I like to do is to give my students a prompt to do some ‘free writing’ in only 3 or 5 minutes. Then I ask them to take a look at what they have just generated and underline their main ideas. Number these ideas from most important to less important. We then use their main ideas in class discussions.
What are the benefits of ‘free writing?’
It works quite well for group work since we all have some ideas to talk about. In addition, you can combine it with other techniques such as underlining and brainstorming, which I mentioned above, to make your writing skills better.
Doing ‘free writing’, in my opinion, is also practicing to handle unexpected things in life. The rule is that you can’t stop writing, and you can’t write without thinking! So, when you do ‘free writing’, you must keep thinking as well. Therefore, even in case you have to write about something that you have never heard of before, your brain still has to work, and you still have to think and write.
Last but not least, it’s also a way for you to be true to yourself! For example, you might come up with a new idea but you are afraid that it sounds silly. If you have plenty of time to prepare, what do you usually do? Don’t write it down, do you? If it is the case, you might lose a precious idea. So, free writing is actually free thinking.
-Thanh Nguyen’ 14, Juniata Online Journalist