Free Write

The Art of Free Writing


Why We Free Write:

  • To get out not so great ideas.
  • To get ideas in the first place.
  • To let go of the inner judge.
  • To return to pen and paper.
  • To be free.

Here’s how it works:

Set a timer.  Give yourself as much time as you can, though be warned that any time more than thirty or so minutes may result in serious hand-cramping.

Free writing means writing without stopping.  Writing through the blocks and the cramps.  Put your pen to paper and do not allow yourself to pick it up until the timer releases you.  When you can’t think of something to write, write that you can’t think of something to write.  When your thoughts stray to what you want for dinner, write those thoughts down.

Use your stream of consciousness to fuel your hand.  Do not be tempted to read what you’ve written until time is up.  And do not cross out or correct any mistakes.  Be vulnerable to your imperfectly perfect self.

It can be more than difficult to face ourselves and our thoughts without a prompt to hide behind, but we are often highly rewarded when we honestly explore our minds.  While free writing this week at camp, one of my students began to write “I can’t think of anything” as I had instructed them to do when ideas were sparse… the student got an idea mid-sentence and left only “I can.”

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”- Sylvia Plath

Elsa Guenther
Creative Writing Specialist


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