Create a Free Write

A free write is an excellent way to get your ideas flowing. We have all chosen a topic before or have had a great idea we want to write about but get stuck when actually trying to write out our ideas. Free writing allows your creative spirit to run free.


What is it?

In short, a free write is basically a pre-writing technique that many people do (mostly in a college atmosphere) in order to collect initial thoughts on a particular idea or topic.

This technique is usually encouraged before writing a first draft of a paper.

A free write is a great tool to use after you have brainstormed your ideas. Why? Since brainstorming allows you to list ideas and group them together, free writing allows you to take those lists and actually form sentences that could possibly be used to aid you in writing paragraphs for a future paper. If you have not brainstormed your ideas first, click here to learn how to brainstorm. However, you do not have to brainstorm first. Free writing will still allow you to get an overall sense of your ideas and how you may want to approach them in your paper.


How do I create one?

  1. Select a topic. Many times this may be assigned to you.
  2. Time yourself. Allow yourself 5-10 minutes to write without stopping. This may not seem like a lot of time but keep in mind that this is just a warm up exercise. Ten minutes is plenty of time to get some of your ideas down on paper. Write without thinking about spelling or grammar. If you still have time and cannot think of anything else to write, you should write “I can’t think of anything else to write” and perhaps why you cannot think of anything else. Whatever you do, just keep writing. Allow yourself to stray off topic if you do. Write down every random thought that comes to mind. It is okay if your ideas are way too broad and abstract. Just keep writing. You will be surprised at the connections you are making.
  3. *Note: I strongly recommend you do this exercise on a piece of paper or in a notebook and NOT on a computer word processor program. People feel the need to correct their grammatical mistakes when typing. If you hand write it, it will seem more informal, which is what a free write is meant to be. You do not want to be constantly correcting your mistakes because it defeats the purpose of this activity.

  4. When time is up, review what you have written.Underline anything interesting or that could help you when writing your paper. See if you can make any connections between the sentences you wrote. Most of the time you will find that you can make many connections.
  5. Read what you have written to a friend. If you feel that you cannot make sense of what you wrote, reading to a friend can really help. Sometimes a helpful ear can lend you some guidance on some important points you are raising. And by reading your free write out loud you might be able to think of new ideas or expand on the ideas you wrote.
  6. Begin your rough draft. If you feel you have enough ideas to start your paper, then begin your draft. Click here to start the next step; how to write an essay. If you still are struggling then try free writing again on another topic or try another pre-writing activity. Click here to see some other pre writing ideas that can help guide you with this process.



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