Tag Archives: free write

How Champion Free Writers Combat The Blank Page

Facing the blank screen can be one of the most intimidating moments of being a writer. I have a sure fire way to conquer this moment: the free write.

A free write is a word spew, or word vomit if you don’t mind a graphic image.

A free write is also a brainstorm or stream of consciousness. It is the act of putting down a word — any word — and then another, another, and another. In a free write, you conquer the blank page by the simple act of just making it not blank. That effort can make a difference in your confidence and your momentum for the rest of your writing time.

I know that for me personally, I don’t have a lot of time to stare at a blank page.

So I write the most hackneyed, predictable sentence I can write about the characters or the main points for a full ten minutes. From there, I take a break to clear my head, but I have something to edit. I can save the tiny chunks of goodness, delete the rest, and start over. I find that by “priming the pump,” I’m more productive, more confident and more creative.

You must have something in your initial drafting stage. Aim for it to be as awful as possible.

I’d like to suggest that if you are going to be productive and successful,  that you aim to be a champion free writer.

How Champion Free Writers Combat The Blank Page

If you are a champion at this, you’ve locked your self-editor in the closet.

You don’t have room for him at all. The best freewriting is fast. So if you are stopping every six seconds to edit yourself, not only are you slowing down, but you’re slowly eroding away your confidence. There is a place for self-editing — and IMHO authors don’t do enough of it — but it is NOT in the initial drafting stage.

If you are a champion at this, you’re comfortable.

Free writers have to practice their momentum. They don’t just become good at this. If you’ve never tried it before, set a timer for 1-2 minutes and then see how many words you can get down in a short about of time about your subject.

If you are a champion at this, your brain gets a workout.

If you are a free writer, you have to think fast as well as type fast. Now not everyone is a fast thinker, but I believe that you can increase your processing speed with practice. And another option is to create this first draft by hand. Julia Cameron writes, “The computer is fast—too fast for our purposes. Writing by computer gets you speed but not depth. Writing by computer is like driving a car at 85 mph. Everything is a blur. “Oh, my God, was that my exit?” Writing by hand is like going 35 mph. “Oh, look, here comes my exit. And look, it has a Sonoco station and a convenience store.”

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If you are a champion at this, you may tap into your subconscious.

With practice, and especially if you are writing with a pen or pencil, your subconscious thoughts are more likely to come to the surface. From this article in Psychology Today, “Other research highlights the hand’s unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas. Virginia Berninger, a professor at the University of Washington, reported her study of children in grades two, four and six that revealed they wrote more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand versus with a keyboard.[4]

If you are a champion at this, you may pick up a pencil instead.

Handwriting is often an effective anti-anxiety treatment and can calm you down. It’s these thoughts that may be your best work, but it’s not going to come if you are to self-aware, worried about spelling or keep thinking that this is stupid. Consider ditching the computer for a while to get over that blank screen fear and free write the old-fashioned way.

If you are a champion at this, you may discover a great metaphor or connection.

While we are writing, we can often free associate unlike items and perhaps see connections that we didn’t see before. It’s also quite acceptable to take a tired and worn out cliche and rework it so that you have a fresh image in your mind. These metaphors can make your prose extraordinary.

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If you are a champion at this, your productivity increases.

If you are in the habit of free writing then you are working. You’re actually getting something done. Writers write. Those who sit around and wait for inspiration get a lot less done. By habitually free writing, you are growing in discipline. You’re creating more and more drafts. You have more to edit and potentially more to publish. This feels good and it’s a lot more fun to be published than it is to be constantly waiting for the elusive muse.

And finally, if you are a champion at this, when you do get that free write done, you have a draft.

You understand this big, stinkin’, pile of words isn’t supposed to be publishable. These words are just the raw material — a hunk of coal that will eventually be pressed into a diamond. And whether Hemingway actually said something to this effect or not, the concept is a true one: the first draft of anything is ca-ca. 

If you’re going to free write today, you’re going to open a document and just go.

You might put down what you’re thinking. You might type out what items are on your desk. If you are free writing, you are creating word after word, sentence after sentence, about nearly anything.

If you are in the habit of free writing, then you have a great tool. Use it as often as you can.


If you liked this article on free writing, you may also like,
NINE QUESTIONS TO ASK IF WRITER’S BLOCK HAS YOU BY THE THROAT,
or TOP 10 EMERGENCY PROMPTS TO HELP YOU THROUGH NANOWRIMO.

 

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

How To Write In 10 Minute Increments The Messy Way

My timer and I have a love/hate relationship. 

Ever since I started calling myself the 10 Minute Writer, back in 2006, I’ve realized that either I’m racing against the timer, or the timer haunts me for my lack of skill and speed. 

Let's Write (1)

During the first minute, it’s like priming the pump, I just write words, any kind of words.

During the second minute I may think of a metaphor and I get it down quickly. The third minute could be a silly stretch of the metaphor (I always want to stretch my metaphors as far as they can go). And my fourth minute is the second guessing of that metaphor and perhaps where I slip into my frequent neurosis about the original idea and I may check the time to see how much I have left. And the fifth minute I wonder if I’ve got anything else left to say. And the sixth minute is remembering what I’m going to do after this is over. And the seventh minute is a reminder to myself  that hey, at least this smattering of words is something. (And something is always better than nothing!) And the eighth minute is rereading everything I’ve written so far and resisting the temptation to waste my time editing. And the ninth minute I wrestle with more self-doubt. Or maybe I remember the puzzle pieces of a quote I’m going to have to look up. I don’t want to waste time on that yet.  And the tenth minute, of course, I’m inspired because I have an new take on the idea and just about the time that I realize that I can make some sense of this idea, the timer dings and I get to make a choice. Do I go back to the housework or the to-do list, or do I reset my timer? Today I’m going to go to the housework.

Enough 10 minute segments like that and eventually I’ll have something worth editing. And even that happens in 10 minute increments. 

I must keep writing in any increment of time. I must keep putting the words down. I can’t be afraid of stream of consciousness or a brain spew.

Because of this method, I’ve learned to write faster. I’ve learned to ignore the self-editor. I’ve learned to plan my non-writing time effectively so I can make the most of this time.

Do you need help writing in short spurts? 

Try this:

  1. Get your document ready.
  2. Send your inner editor out on a fruitless errand so you can work alone.
  3. Get all those little things you think you need, like the right music, the right font or the right beverage.
  4. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
  5. Describe why this topic you’re writing about (or the story, the character, the setting) is so important.
  6. Go as quickly as you can. Try not to backspace for errors.
  7. If you’re stuck, go back to the beginning and just rewrite what you wrote. You may like a second version better.
  8. Don’t look at the clock if you can.
  9. Add fluff words, descriptions, back story, or nonsense. You need this to teach your self-editor who the boss is, to practice writing quickly and you never know, you may strike gold.
  10. When the timer dings, walk away. Don’t analyze it. Don’t start editing.
  11. Spend the next segment of time doing something mindless or necessary.
  12. When you return to your writing, keep going until you have a natural stopping point. Don’t edit until you have a good chunk to work with.
  13. Repeat as needed.
  14. Be flexible with this system. Figure out what works. You may want more time. You may want less. The point is, you wrote words. That’s all that matters.

My original words are just mediocre. I know that they’re nothing magical. I know that most of them will cut, twisted, refurbished, pitched, smashed and smoothed.

But the point is that I have more now than I did 10 minutes ago. 

Let's Write all the words in 2016 by Katharine Grubb
Click the image above for the link to the fastest growing writers group on Facebook!

You can do this too. 

We have 1,460 10 minute segments available to us in 2016. You’re not going to write in all of them, but you’ll write in some. Do what you can.

I think you’ll be pleased with the results.



Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayWant more tips on how to make Twitter work for you? CONQUERING TWITTER in 10 MINUTES DAY is available! Specifically written for authors, this book will help you think about yourself, your brand, your books, and your goals on Twitter, create great questions to ask and organize your time in such a way that you can get the most out of every tweet.

Available for $.99! 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. 

Top Eight Signs You May Be Doing Nanowrimo All Wrong

Is it really November? Is it really time to start that non-stop frenzy that requires 50,000 words in 30 days? It is!

Congratulations to all of you who are attempting it this year!

And to those of you who have tried, get discouraged and possibly think you are on the road to failure, just consider this:  you may be doing it wrong. 

Top Ten Signs Your Doing Nanowrimo Wrong

1. You think every word you write is golden. Um, your nano project is a first draft. Please, for the love of all that’s publishable, type this sentence ten times —> MY NANO PROJECT IS A FIRST DRAFT. The solution? Just plan on doing some major rewrites, revisions and edits long before you let a critic, agent, publisher or reviewer see it.

You just have to write the words.

2. The converse: you think every word you write is garbage, so you delete and try again, rewriting the same sentence fifty seven times. The solution? Don’t delete! Don’t edit! Your purpose is a high word count, to have the raw material of a good book. Just keep going and worry about editing later.

You just have to write the words.

3. You’ve got your character stuck in a corner so you quit. The solution? Give him wings and let him fly out of there. Leave him in the corner and throw down 3K on his backstory. Go to a different scene, or a different point of view, and write what’s happening elsewhere. You don’t have to save your hero in this draft. You just have to write the words.

Nano (2)

You just have to write the words.

4. Your outline isn’t as wonderful as it was in October, so you quit. The solution? Forget the outline. Go a different direction. You are the master of the outline, not the other way around. If you want start at the ending and work backward. No one says that you have to do your words in chronological order.

You just have to write the words.

5. Your write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method is stressing you out. You thought that this was the way to stay truly inspired. The solution? Go easy on yourself. You don’t have to be a creative genius all the time. Instead of wishing for the muse to show up, write about descriptions of the setting, character backstory, or the tragic forces that made your antagonist so nasty.

You just have to write the words.

6. You obsess over everyone else’s numbers. It feels like all your friends are knocking these big word counts every day and you’ve lost your confidence. The solution? Stop looking at what everyone else is doing. You only have to write for yourself. Also? If you spend your writing time today just writing all the reasons why you WILL succeed, it can count for you daily total.

NanoDisney

You just have to write the words.

7.  You think that all the big, famous writers do Nanowrimo, so this must be the ticket to fame. Nope. Not quite. The solution? Realize that every big, famous, published writer had their own unique ticket to fame and fortune. The only common denominator is their hard work. Nanowrimo is a great idea, but it’s only a tool that writers can use to get a draft. The reward comes in completing the goal, not fame or fortune.

You just have to write the words.

8. You think that winning Nanowrimo propels into a magical world of authorship. Nope. The solution to this thought? A reality check. Many, many people complete nanowrimo and their finished draft goes nowhere. Those 50,000 words is the literary equivalent of finding a piece of carbon. Don’t you dare assume that you can sell it off as a diamond without a lot of pressure and hard work.

Nanowrimo is fun, it’s hard work, and it can, at times, be stressful. But it is JUST a tool. It is not a replacement for good editing and revising, good character development or any other short cut. It is a great way to create raw materials for future masterpieces. We all have to start somewhere and if you’re working at Nanowrimo then you’re better than writers who never write a word at all.

You can do this! One word at a time! 


Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayWant more tips on how to make Twitter work for you? CONQUERING TWITTER in 10 MINUTES DAY is available for pre-order! Specifically written for authors, this book will help you think about yourself, your brand, your books, and your goals on Twitter, create great questions to ask and organize your time in such a way that you can get the most out of every tweet.

Available for $.99! 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.