I’ve had some time off from teaching recently, with the aim of writing a proposal for some research I want to conduct at the UCT English Language Centre later on this year. However, as soon as I sat down at my computer, I came down with a bad case of writer’s block which, in case you don’t know, is when you sit and stare at a blank screen and can’t think of one single thing to write.
Have you ever felt like this?
It’s not a great feeling, so I thought I’d walk away from the computer for a minute and try again later. Well, a long time later – after three cups of coffee, a walk with the dog, a yoga class and some disastrous DIY, in fact – I returned to the computer with STILL no inspiration of what to write. So I decided to google “what to do if you have writers’ block?”
One of the ideas that jumped out at me was freewriting. Freewriting is writing continuously for a set period of time on a random topic, without regard to spelling, punctuation or grammar. Freewriting involves generating words, not worrying about trying to find the right words, or the order of ideas, or correctness. So I decided to sit and write for fifteen minutes about anything that came into my head. I didn’t stop until the time was up.
It really helped! The process trained my brain to tap into the words inside my head and gave them a place to live on my computer screen. Freewriting for a few days in a row exercised my brain and focused my thoughts. It was also a great means of self-exploration and reflection when I read back what I’d been writing. Eventually I got back into my research writing – but not before thinking what a useful idea freewriting is and how everyone should try it – so I wrote this blog!
Why not have a go at freewriting yourself!
Just start writing about anything, even mundane thoughts such as: “ great, Monday morning, there isn’t any milk in the fridge so I’m drinking black coffee and I hate black coffee …” Make sure you keep writing for fifteen minutes and try and do it daily.
If you find that the same worries crop up every day, maybe these worries need to be addressed. If you discover that your writing always seems to contain self-criticism, you can make a conscious effort to be kinder to yourself. If you’re stressed out, writing down your thoughts just before you go to sleep is a good way of dealing with things, alleviating anxiety so you can get some rest.
If you’re learning English, freewriting is a great thing to do as it practices your vocabulary and gets you thinking in English. Writing daily will really help you in your learning. To expand your vocabulary why not subscribe to our #WOTD and then try and use it in your writing?