March 28, 2012

Freewriting, Part Three: Why It’s Valuable

Posted in freewriting, Ideas, Practice Writing, Warm-Up tagged , , , , , at 12:31 pm by Rebecca Hein

Whenever I hear other writers say that freewriting is a waste of time, I always wonder what they expect of it. Useable words? New ideas?

If so, they might be disappointed. Good freewriting is sometimes so loose and disjointed that nobody can make sense of it.

If a good idea hits during freewriting, great. Grab it. If you get the revision of that key scene in your novel, wonderful. But if it’s just random words, don’t be deceived: the process is inherently valuable.

Freewriting teaches ease and flow, and you have to trust that even if your language is empty and chaotic, the experience of pouring out words—any words—is well worthwhile.


March 21, 2012

Freewriting, Part Two: Unrestricted Words

Posted in Flow, flow in writing, freewriting, Practice Writing, Warm-Up, writing techniques tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:06 pm by Rebecca Hein

In journal-writing, where our only goal is to capture our thoughts and feelings, we still expect our observations to make some sense. Therefore, we try to steer our writing in a certain direction.

Freewriting is different. It steers us, and being propelled forward by the raw energy of undirected ideas is a good antidote to the strictures of self-expression, even the mild limits of a journal entry.

March 16, 2012

Writing Class March 31, 2012: Writing as Target Practice

Posted in Writing Classes tagged at 3:43 pm by Rebecca Hein

Announcing a writing class to be held on Saturday March 31, 2012

Subject: Writing as Target Practice

When a musician plays in tune, everyone can hear the accuracy and beauty of it. Writers can learn to write exactly the story or essay the Muse is calling for, the way musicians learn to play in tune.

Even better than aiming for this target and hitting it is to create the conditions for the target to float so close in front of you that you can’t possibly miss.

Format: Telephone Conference Call

Schedule: Noon-1:30 pm (critiques) and 4:00-5:30 pm (discussion) Eastern Time

Cost: $50.00

Deadline for enrollment: Tuesday March 20, 2012. To enroll, pay $50 via PayPal to on or before March 20 or send a check to Hein Family Enterprises, Inc. 10205 W. Hwy. 220, Casper, WY 82604. Postmark March 20.

Enrollment is limited to the first eight people who sign up.

For more details contact Rebecca Hein; or (307) 472-0208

About the instructor: Rebecca Hein is the author of more than 80 published articles about cello playing and its relation to a variety of topics from writing to marriage to taxes. She is the author of A Case of Brilliance, her memoir about the discovery that her two children are profoundly gifted. She has a master’s degree in cello performance from Northwestern University and has taught at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Ripon College (Ripon, Wisconsin), and Casper College, (Casper, Wyoming).

March 14, 2012

Freewriting, Part One: How It Differs from Keeping a Journal

Posted in flow in writing, freewriting, writing techniques tagged , , , at 4:14 pm by Rebecca Hein

Some writers equate journal-writing with freewriting on the grounds that journal-writing is private, informal, and unrestricted. Yet there are some important differences.

In a journal, we record our thoughts and feelings, along with events that are important to us. Self-expression is the goal, and by definition, what we write in our journal has to make some sense.

Not so with freewriting. We can wander, experiment, free-associate, and launch into our own stream-of-consciousness. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if it’s nonsense because order and coherence were never our goals.

March 7, 2012

Advice vs. Experience

Posted in Creativity, Fiction Writing, flow in writing, writing techniques tagged , , , , , , at 1:26 pm by Rebecca Hein

When I was younger, I dutifully read books on writing, and still remember those passages about observation and detail: “Go out into the rain. Notice everything. Notice how the puddles look on the sidewalk with the raindrops spattering into them. Notice the people with their umbrellas, hurrying home.” And so forth.

Fifteen years later, my reaction was identical when one of my cello teachers said, “Listen to your playing and try to get a better tone.”

I froze. Shut down in both cases by direct instructions, I could hardly move or think.

But why? I certainly needed the information. Writers do need to observe and note details; musicians have to develop their tone.

My problem was in the way the advice was delivered. It was too direct. Trying to do what I was told, rather than immersing myself in the experience, removed me several steps from the very sensations that could have helped me progress.

Now I know how to deal with direct advice: take it in, do nothing about it, and let it float to the back of my mind, where it mixes with other information to ultimately produce ideas I can work with.

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