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.

August 18, 2010

How Can Undirected Work Be Productive?

Posted in Warm-Up tagged , at 9:03 am by Rebecca Hein

If you sit at your desk, idly twirling a pencil, how could you justify that behavior to your boss? If you work on an assembly line, or otherwise produce a material product on a set schedule, then likely you couldn’t argue that you’re accomplishing something.

The rules of creativity are different. Every musician knows that the real battle is in expressing the subtle nuances of emotion. Likewise in writing. How do you capture the deepest moments of human experience; those which are nearly impossible to put into words?

It can be done, but not through known avenues of productivity. Daydreaming, on the other hand, can lead us in surprising new directions.

August 11, 2010

Why You Should Ignore Mistakes in Your Warm-ups

Posted in Warm-Up tagged , , at 9:36 am by Rebecca Hein

In cello I teach and practice an activity known as “speed scales.” The procedure is to start slow, with an easy scale, then speed it up incrementally until you’re playing so fast that everything breaks down. Thus you experience the feel of fast playing, with nothing getting in the way, certainly not a preoccupation with the inevitable wrong notes which become more frequent as your speed increases.

A good writing warm-up is like speed scales. The goal is to experience the outpouring of language so you can learn to hear and feel it as it floods through you. The result is increased creativity, and you can look forward to this if you learn to ignore superficial errors and stay with your main purpose.

August 4, 2010

What is a Warm-up?

Posted in Warm-Up tagged , at 9:19 am by Rebecca Hein

A writing warm-up is by definition the first thing you do in your writing sessions. Spill your thoughts onto the paper or computer screen with no regard for grammar, spelling, coherence, or quality. The goal is pure flow, with no other experience or expectation getting in the way.

Flow in music, as in writing, launches you directly into the feel of your work. You can enjoy the undiluted sensation of forward motion in words or musical phrases, and since momentum is often more than half the battle, you’re likely to find, as I did, that many problems solve themselves simply because you have begun right.

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