Writing Wednesday: A 10-Minute Freewriting Warm-Up

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The concept of spontaneous writing to loosen up your flow is nothing new. In 1953 Jack Kerouac even wrote down the “essentials” of this style, in an attempt to explain to Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs how he managed to compose The Subterraneans in under three days. For Kerouac, this boiled down into nine important steps, considering everything from the initial set-up to your overall mental state throughout.

While we’re not suggesting you’re going to write your next novella in a ten-minute warm-up, the basics of Kerouac’s spontaneous writing style can be applied to any writer’s habits. Inspired by the great Beat writer, may we introduce the Paperblanks Essentials of Spontaneous Prose!

1) Make It a Habit

We mean this in more than one way. It’s important to make your writing warm-up a part of your daily routine, so pick a specific time at the beginning of the day to devote to this practice. Ideally, your freewriting will be the first reading or writing you do that day, so your mind is totally clear and ready to spontaneously create. Taking this a step further, try to freewrite in the same setting every day. This way your mind really will be a blank slate and you won’t be distracted by new surroundings.

2) Set a Limit and Stick to It

Author and journalist Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) has developed a system called “Morning Pages,” in which you take a moment at the beginning of the day to “dump” out any thoughts and ideas cluttering up your brain’s creative space. Cameron’s Morning Pages calls for 750 words of stream-of-consciousness writing each morning. At approximately three handwritten pages this may take more than ten minutes and so we won’t expect that you follow the Morning Pages guideline exactly. Instead, pick a word or time limit that fits your lifestyle and current writing habits. The important thing is just to stick with this limit, so you are warming up evenly every day.

3) Start with a Prompt

It wouldn’t be a spontaneous exercise if you had to brainstorm a starting place! Take the thinking and planning out of it by beginning with a prompt, whether something in your immediate environment or a random prompt (like those available on the Paperblanks app!).

So Why Freewrite?

Freewriting at the beginning of your day is essentially a low-impact workout for your brain. Spontaneously pouring out whatever comes to mind is a great way of loosening up for the rest of day. You will be more alert and perceptive to the queues around you, enhancing your ability to notice potential character- or scene-building elements in your everyday life. You will also beat writer’s block before it even has a chance to take hold. Taking away the pressure of writing something “good” by simply writing breaks down the self-imposed barriers to creativity, and this freedom will transfer to the “real” writing you do during the rest of your day.

So go ahead and get your workout on and experience the freedom that comes with freewriting!

About Paperblanks: At Paperblanks, we believe that art should have a place in all aspects of life. That’s why we follow the artist’s way in everything we do – creating, crafting and releasing designs we believe have the power to touch people. For more about Paperblanks, go to our website at paperblanks.com.

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