Thursday, November 15, 2012

Freewriting: Writing Your Way Off the Struggle Bus

Is your mind full of the various assignments, final papers, projects, and exams quickly approaching? Are you attempting to start those papers, but find yourself unable to concentrate on the task at hand without thinking of the ten other things you also need to do?

I feel your pain. I have been suffering from the too-many-things-to-do-in-too-little-time syndrome for the past couple weeks. I am pressed for time and pressed for original ideas. 

So how can we clear the clutter and get to the good stuff?


Freewriting is a great strategy for getting all your ideas out on paper, even if some of those ideas are, “I wonder what I’m going to do this weekend?” or “I have no ideas.” 

Here is how I describe it sometimes to students who come into the Writing Center – word vomit. Just get it all out and you will feel better for it just like when you have a stomach ache and feel nauseous. 

Sit down and write whatever comes into your mind, and when you hit a road block in your mind, pick a phrase like “struggle bus” and write it over and over until that thought is interrupted by another one.

Focused freewriting is a more specific type of freewriting. You have your topic, you sit down, and write on it or one side of your argument non-stop until you have nothing else to say about it. Then, do the same for the other side of the argument. (If you need a source to help you, follow the link for "Generating Ideas" for some strategies to get started.)

Once all your thoughts and ideas are out on paper, you can read through what you have and see what you can glean from your freewriting to use in your paper. 

Who knows?  You just might surprise yourself and kill two birds with one stone this way: you work on your paper, and you might work through a nagging issue in your mind or at least get it out of your mind long enough to concentrate on what you have to accomplish.

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