Showing posts with label freewriting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label freewriting. Show all posts

Purposeful Writing


Purposeful Writing: Use Freewriting by Deborah Lyn Stanley

Purposeful writing is knowing why we are writing and who we wish to serve. What is special about our writing that readers can’t just get from the next blogger?

At a loss of what to write? Need to generate ideas? Or, do you want to tell your message in a unique way? I suggest you consider freewriting the topic you have chosen, or one that is your favorite. Make a list of prompts for yourself to use for freewriting, and several photos that tell a story.

Start writing and watch the topic come alive!

Once we have our article drafted, we’ll review it for clarity, grammar improvements, plus description changes to stronger verbs and nouns. Read it aloud. Consider any changes you wish to make to the point of view.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use freewriting to inspire your article or story:
1) Choose prompts that kindle your writing, be it a word, a phrase, or a poem that stirs up a memory or your imagination.
2) Make it fiction, a true story, or part of a memoir.
3) All freewrites are good, there is never a perfect freewrite!
4) Write whatever comes to your mind. It doesn’t have to make sense, just keep writing for ~20 minutes. Write the story you see in your mind’s eye.
5) You are writing for yourself as a starting point for your topic, then you will develop the topic it to get your message across and flowing.

More info about freewriting:

The Write Spot – Jumpstart Program  (See the “Blog” for prompts)

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.

Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:

Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love is available:
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Freewriting Frees You From Your Inner Editor

How do you get rid of that inner editor—the devilish one that sits on one shoulder, whispering,
“That’s not very good. What makes you think you can write? You can even spell!” Or “Doesn’t that need a comma there?” Or “Is that the right word? I don’t think so.”

Freewriting or flow of consciousness is a great exercise to shake off that devilish inner editor and get yourself back into a fun, playful sense of creativity. I think Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind) was one of the first who promoted this form of writing.

The rule for doing this is there are no rules. Choose a topic. Set a timer for ten minutes and put pen to paper. Do not stop for any reason. Don’t worry about commas and spelling and grammar. Don’t think about what you’re writing, just write whatever comes to mind, even if it’s “I can’t think of anything to write. This is a stupid exercise.” Something will come to mind. Go from there, see where it takes you. You may end up on a topic far from the one you started with.

But what do I write about? Anything you want. Something you see out your window, something that’s bothering you, a resignation letter to your boss, a mini-murder mystery in which you kill off your boss. When I teach beginning writing classes, I ask my students to make a list of 5-10 things they’d like to write about. Then each picks one and we do the 10-minute exercise.

Take something from your Work In Progress. Have your character talk to you or write you a letter. Write a page describing your setting. Pick a feeling and write everything you associate with that feeling: what’s your physical reaction? What smell does it evoke? What color do you associate with this feeling? Any tastes come to mind? Music? What memories?

You might end up with pages of drivel, but you might also find a diamond in the rough, something that could help with your WIP or be the beginning of a whole new novel.

Try it. You might enjoy it!

A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona where she blogs, teaches
writing, and edits. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreamsis based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. The next book in the series, Dare to Dream, and a non-fiction book Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women, have just been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism and a certificate in fiction writing.

Use Freewriting to Find Peace & Balance in Your Writing -- and in Your Life!

by Dallas Woodburn

Where did the summer go?? I just can’t believe it’s already August. The fall semester of teaching starts up for me again in just two weeks. It seems like I can close my eyes and it is the beginning of summer again, when the fireflies were just starting to appear and a long path of sunny days stretched out before me. What happened?? Where did it all go?

Do you ever get those same feelings? It floors me how quickly time passes! Sometimes it feels like time is a river rushing past me so fast and I’m sitting there in a little boat, struggling to get a grip on the oars, not even enjoying the beautiful scenery flowing past. It makes me feel overwhelmed and frustrated, like I’m wasting or not appreciating enough the most precious commodity we all are gifted with: time.

I am also guilty of something I’ve come to think of in myself as productivititus: trying to fit waaaaaay to much into my daily to-do list, and then feeling like a failure when I don’t accomplish everything I’ve set out to do. This is not a good habit because I don’t want my summer, or my life, to be nothing but a giant to-do list of tasks I’m checking off. As my idol John Wooden often said, the most important words in the English language are love and balance. Work is important, but so is time for play! Balance, balance, balance is so crucial.

Something that is helpful to me when I am feeling off-balance, especially by the incredibly fast-flowing river of time, is to go to a  quiet corner of the room and spend a few minutes freewriting.

I always use freewriting in the creative writing courses I teach to help students break through writer’s block. However, I think freewriting is something that can benefit everyone! It is such a great tool for not just writing, but also your mental health, sense of empowerment, and overall happiness.

Here’s how freewriting works: set a timer for a certain amount of time — I’ve found 8 minutes works well because it’s not too long or too short — and start writing. The only rule is that you cannot stop until the timer dings! It is a tool to keep you from self-editing or second-guessing or worrying that what you are writing is not “good” enough. Instead, just let the writing pour out of you. You will find yourself tapping into your subconscious, which can help you unlock all sorts of dreams and ideas and even solve problems that are nagging you. For me, freewriting is a way to re-find my center of balance. It unclutters my mind and makes me feel at peace.

You don’t need a fancy journal or expensive pen to freewrite. All you need is a blank piece of paper — even scrap paper works! Some people like to freewrite on the computer, which is certainly all right. I personally enjoy using a pen and paper because it makes the writing feel more open and less intimidating somehow — more unharnessed. Something that is just for me.

Here are some freewriting topics I’ve been using lately as jumping-off points:
- My favorite memory I made this summer was …
- Three things I am grateful for in this moment are …
- I will wring out every last drop of fun from my last couple weeks of summer by …

What are your plans for these final weeks of summer? Does anyone else use freewriting as a way to alleviate stress and find balance? Any other tips or suggestions for slowing down the pace of life and savoring the time we are blessed with?

Dallas Woodburn is the author of two award-winning collections of short stories and editor of Dancing With The Pen: a collection of today's best youth writing. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three years in a row and her nonfiction has appeared in a variety of national publications including Family Circle, Writer's Digest, The Writer, and The Los Angeles Times. She is the founder of Write On! For Literacy and Write On! Books Youth Publishing Company and is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Fiction Writing at Purdue University, where she teaches undergraduate writing courses and serves as Fiction Editor of Sycamore Review. Many of her short stories are compiled online here.

Keeping a Journal

I'd like to say I still have every journal from a lifetime of writing. After all, I poured so many thoughts into those pages, secrets I couldn't even share with myself.

My childhood diaries, however, have gone the way of my baby teeth. Just as well. Some things are better left forgotten.

More recent journals are scattered about my home: stacked on the floor, stuffed into the back of shelves, and hidden in boxes in the closet. I wouldn't be surprised if some are propping up second-hand furniture.

Does this mean I'm indifferent to the contents of those half-remembered tomes? I prefer to see them as buried treasure. How much more poignant the words will seem when unearthed years from now. And perhaps their value will have grown during the passing years.

Consider the following description written during a morning freewrite at an oceanfront cottage:

"The way the foam dances ahead of the wave, it looks like nimble fingers on piano keys."

The line stayed in my head for years and eventually evolved into the following poem:

water washed over
cold crescent shore loosely keyed
pebbled concerto

The basic concept had endured but been expanded to include more concrete imagery. If I hadn't captured the description in the moment, however, the poem never would have come about.

Journaling is a valid aspect of any writer's life. Recording your observations on a daily basis provides practice and discipline. Try it for a week--just one page per day--and see if you're not convinced.

You just might realize that there's more to "keeping" a journal than choosing its storage location.

Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which has three new books available and several more in the works for 2012.

Unlock Your Creative Spirit: Play With Playdough

When was the last time you set aside a portion of your day to be creative?

No, I don’t mean being creative to brainstorm ideas for a work meeting. Nor am I talking about using creative thinking to come up with the perfect gift for your significant other’s birthday. And no, I don’t mean being creative in thinking of new ways to motivate your kids to eat their vegetables or study for the SATs.

What I mean is, when was the last time you set aside time to be creative ... just for the sake of being creative? Simply for yourself and your spirit?

Remember when you were a kid and you could spend hours absorbed with a wad of brightly colored playdough? In playdough world, your imagination takes you to a place where an orange snowman is commonplace and a three-horned fire-spouting monster takes shape before your very eyes.

If you feel like your writing life is stuck in a rut, I have a solution that won’t cost much money or take much time: go back to playdough world.

Grab a wad of playdough and roll it into a ball. Feel its texture between your fingers. Don’t think; don’t worry; don’t question yourself. Enjoy the moment. Just see what shapes and figures emerge from your imagination.

This can help your creativity in multiple ways. You might find yourself making sculptures that relate to your life – maybe you’ll make figurines of your family and friends, or create a visual 3-D diagram of a problem you’re facing. Perhaps you’re feeling frustrated and rolling the clay into a ball, then pounding it flat, will feel like a release.

Visualize your negative energy trailing out of your body through your fingertips into the playdough. Then, pound it away. Do this multiple times until you feel rejuvenated.

Even if you don’t sculpt objects that relate to your life, you’re still allowing your mind to roam free and explore various ideas and possibilities. Just see where your thoughts take you!

A good exercise when you are done sculpting with playdough is to spend five minutes writing stream-of-consciousness style in a journal. Don’t censor yourself; don’t edit; don’t even think too much – just write, for five minutes, without letting your pen leave the paper. You might be surprised what thoughts, emotions, and new ideas turn up!

At-home recipe for playdough:

  • 3 cups four
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 7 drops food coloring.
Mix dry ingredients with oil. Add food coloring to water and mix together. Add water to flour/salt/oil mixture slowly – about 1/4 cup at a time – and mix together with a spoon. Once you’ve added all the water, knead the dough with your hands until texture is smooth. Enjoy!

Bio: Dallas Woodburn is the author of two award-winning collections of short stories and the editor of Dancing With The Pen: a collection of today's best youth writing. She has written more than 80 articles for national publications including Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, CO-ED, Justine, and The Los Angeles Times and her plays have been produced in Los Angeles and Ventura, California. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Dzanc Books "Best of the Web" anthology and has appeared in a variety of literary journals including Monkeybicycle, Arcadia and flashquake. Dallas is the founder of the nonprofit organization “Write On! For Literacy” that has donated nearly 12,000 new books to disadvantaged children. She hosts frequent writing contests, teaches writing camps for kids, and is Assistant Fiction Editor of Sycamore Review while pursuing her MFA in Fiction at Purdue University. Contact her at her website or blog

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