Free Writing

Someone asked me how I do this. How do I write every day and without pre-thought come up with a page of words that makes sense? I understand that some who have read my writing would find argument about the “makes sense” part but that doesn’t matter to me.

First rule of free writing: It doesn’t have to make sense!

I learned about free writing at Esalen Institute. My first teacher was Bill Herr. Bill is the “Art Barn” guy guiding and helping novice artists and writers to express themselves. He hosts a weekly free-writing circle. We show up and write on prompts that come from a deck of cards or any idea and then share and comment on what we have written. Prompts are usually given 10-15 minutes of writing time.
My other teacher at Esalen is Ann Randolph. Ann blows me away every time I see her perform. She is poignant and hilarious, revolutionary and heartfelt, darkness and brilliant light.
The first class I took with Ann changed everything for this innocent writer of truth. Ann taught me the rules of free writing and besides rule #1, my writing need not make sense, she told me that what I wrote did not have to be TRUE! Those words released my fear of the shame I would feel if I didn’t tell something exactly as it happened!
Ann also said, “What you write doesn’t have to have a purpose. It need not be logical, nor funny; neither profound nor wise. Don’t write to impress, teach or inspire.”
So I will add to my wise teachers’ wisdom and say to you, “Just write! Write as if no one will ever read it. Put fingers to keys or pen to paper and let it go. Write now and find out what you wrote when you read it! Give yourself permission to write anything that comes up. Trust the process and know that you cannot fail… because whatever you write is yours! It is yours to keep or destroy, to read or not, to share or not. It doesn’t matter.
I free write as an exercise in discipline, because I’m curious about the workings of my mind, and because I am practicing “transparency.” Since I started this blog it has gotten my attention and I am hooked. Each day I am excited to read what appears on the page. I never know who I am going to meet or what they have to say.


1 thought on “Free Writing

  1. Freewriting has always been (for me at least) the only absolute cure for writer’s block and a lack of story ideas. Unfortunately, I don’t do it enough, but this is a good reminder that it is a process that works for a lot of people. Good article!


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