Step 2: Get words on paper
There comes a point in any writing project when you need to follow Ernest Hemingway’s first rule for writers: Apply the seat of your pants to the seat of a chair.
Only forget that kind of writing where you:
- Hunt for the right word.
- Peck it out.
- Shuffle through notes looking for a quote.
- Head to the vending machines for the third time in 15 minutes, hoping that when you come back you might — just might — think of something to say.
Nothing gets words on paper faster or gives your writing more personality than freewriting.
Both sides of the brain
Freewriting is based on the idea that our brains are divided into two parts:
- The logical left side. It thinks analytically, making sure you don’t end your sentences in prepositions or use a colon when only a semicolon will do.
- The creative right side. It’s impulsive and unconventional and gives your copy interest and energy.
Problem is, we weren’t taught how to use the right side of our brains to write. Instead, we focus on AP Style, punctuation and spelling — editing.
Freewriting momentarily gets rid of the brain’s logical left side so you can tap its creative right side.
How to freewrite
After you prewrite and take a break:
- Divide and conquer. Choose one section: your lead, say, or the first part of the body.
- Take breaks. They help you solve writing problems and come up with fresh ideas.
- Write quickly, without stopping. Push through your conditioned impulse to edit.
- Banish the grammar police. Don’t let the left side of the brain take over! Stay in writing mode.
Get ready to rewrite.
Don’t worry if you make mistakes. You can always fix them later.
In fact, that’s the third step of the writing process: rewriting.