Imagine that you’re facing the challenge of finding an innovative solution, coming up with a new concept or writing a creative short story – right now! How can you do this? You may be struggling to make a start.
In our working and family lives, we are constantly asked to tackle difficult problems, find ideas and develop good solutions. This is where the technique of freewriting comes into play.
In “Accidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing”, author Mark Levy introduces freewriting, a technique that allows you to tackle problems, to think through ideas, to free and organize your mind, and to get creative.
You have no doubt hundreds of brilliant ideas floating in your head; if you are struggling to articulate them, you are not alone. The human mind can generate amazing thoughts and ideas but sometimes it can be difficult to guide or explain them.
We all have eureka moments that come to us like lightning bolts – some are nonsensical, others can change the world. Remember the legend of the apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head? At that moment, he suddenly understood how gravity worked.
No doubt the human mind can conjure up amazing springs of creativity. Sometimes, however, we fail to organize and refine our thoughts into intelligible forms. That’s because we ‘re predisposed to laziness, or leave indistinct and wooly ruminations. We start daydreaming, lose concentration and the best ideas are lost just like that.
There’s a method for combating this: freewriting. Freewriting is a way to arrange our minds, come up with ideas, or make decisions by putting our thoughts down rapidly on paper.
It’s more than just distracted, directionless scribbling. To reap massive benefits from your initial thought, you need to apply rules and techniques. Freewriting is a way of remembering everything inside your mind. It keeps track of it, and chronicles your thoughts forever as they grow.
It’s especially useful if you have to make difficult business decisions. But it’s also excellent in situations where you have to think about your personal life or get to grips with big challenges like writing a book or a thesis.
But don’t be fooled by the name. Freewriting is relevant not just for authors, business consultants or wordy professionals – it’s for everyone. Now that we know the theory, how does freewriting actually work? Let’s get started by looking at some basic rules.
Freewriting, despite the name, isn’t just “free writing.” There are rules to follow, so don’t rush headlong into the exercise. It’s important to grasp the three basics.
First, temper your expectations. This will get you out of the starting blocks with ease. It’s called a try easy attitude. Let’s look at one case in the real world. Business consultant and mental coach Robert Kriegel typified the mentality. He managed to get athletes to set records of world beating while competing in the Olympics for a place. How? He told them to relax and give just 90 percent, rather than 110 percent.
The same mind-set applies in freewriting too. Don’t aim to produce flawless prose. Just smash out some decent words and thoughts. Begin by telling yourself to “try easy” and just scribble something without pressuring yourself.
Secondly, write quickly and continuously. This will stop you judging yourself too soon. Aim for volume and don’t worry about the actual content for the time being.
Write or type in as quickly as possible. Seek to keep going, if you touch a wall. Repeat the last words or sentence you’ve written to keep the momentum going even though it doesn’t make any grammar sense! This is about making sure you’re not caught in a rut. For now, price is not of utmost importance. If it’s on the page you can always go back to tweak and amend your job.
Thirdly, work to a time limit.
Setting a time limit for your session means you’ll maintain focus on your freewriting. That way you know when it’ll end. Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club, works like this. He likes to write while his washing machine is on a laundry cycle. This way he can compartmentalize his writing and concentration according to the machine.
So, just what is the purpose of freewriting? What is it trying to achieve? Well, for starters, there are some obvious advantages over just mulling things over.
Our minds appear to wander, as we think. We get lost in thinking. It ensures that there’s a fair risk that brilliant ideas are lost and overlooked in the melee. When you write down stuff, however, you will still have a record of what you think, and can track back your reasoning.
Imagine going to a supermarket. If you shop with only a mental list, there’s a high probability that you’ll forget something. However, if you’ve written your list down, the chances of forgetting, say, milk or eggs are considerably reduced.
Freewriting holds a record of your thinking. It stops thoughts from being lost in the ether. You should prepare the ground with a few prompts before you proceed to freewriting. This will warm your mind up and help you discover unexpected paths later on. The basic line to your thought and writing is a guide. Using a prompt to start a session or even send you off as a signpost to new paths.
A prompt is a fantastic warm-up tool. What’s more, a good prompt can easily push your thoughts into new and unexpected directions.
When it comes to freewriting, unnecessary complexity is best avoided. Think in terms of melodies rather than symphonies. Keep things simple. In fact, in freewriting, too much complexity can get you into trouble.
If a solution appears beyond your reach, it is mostly because you overthink ambiguity over succinctness, or prioritize it. Operating with evidence helps you to break this trap. Facts are clear and plain. That is more, when you pursue one reality to the next, they will also set off a line of thought.
For instance, a drop in company sales is verifiable. This leads to the discovery that weak productivity is affecting numbers, and this to the revelation that employee salary is too low to incentivize staff to work hard. One simple fact has set off a clear chain of thought that gets right to the heart of the problem.
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