Writing Process, Writing Samples

Over Thinking Free-Writing

I have always had issues sitting down to free-write.  Something about that blank piece of paper is just overwhelming.  I have never considered myself very good at free-writing.   It’s as if when I sit down the thoughts just vanish into thin air.   Like I am pushing too hard to make something happen.  I have done a few exercises in the past couple years just to get the creativity flowing again, but it was a struggle at first to put anything down.  The last time I attempted to do a free-write I discovered part of my issue with my thoughts and process coming into the exercise.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term free-write, it is when you sit down with no particular idea in your head and just write what come to mind.  It can be part of larger project, though I use it to break free from my larger projects to keep the interest in writing.  NaNoWriMo is a perfect example of large exercise in free-writing, you just write and not worry about how horrible it is.

I have always approached free-writing with reluctance, my first mistake!  Then I would attempt to create a setting or a plot in my head.  I was over thinking the whole experience.  If I approached free-writing exercises more like I approach my blog posts I would have a lot better luck!  Most of my blog posts are a basic free-writing exercise.  I have a topic and I start writing what comes to mind.  With free-writing I was having difficulty coming up with a topic to write about.  The last time I sat down to do a free-write months ago I had a realization.  Why should I come up with a topic to free-write about?  My usual writing process started with a character not a plot.  I sat down and started writing character outlines and came up with a loose plot to work with.  Once I had my eureka moment I have found free-writing a much simpler.  I am not sure why I believed I needed to change my entire writing process when I sat down to do something different.

I have included a sample of free-write I did January 2012.  I have not revisited the story since then, but it might become a project later in the future.

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The birds were chirping peacefully on the feeder, while she sat in the chair sipping her coffee.  The sun was shining and making it appear deceptively warm.  Though she knew it was freezing outside, she longed to run outside and play like when she was a small child.  She was no longer a child and some days she could barely remember when she was, those were the bad days.  The good das she remembered those distant memories like they were yester.  They were bright, vivid memories.  It was a shame most people didn’t want to hear them.  Her children were grown and had children of their own.  They didn’t visit as often as they once did.  She would see them once a month at most.  The grandchildren she would see much less often.  One of her grandchildren was expecting a child of her own soon.  She remembered how scared she was when she was expecting her first of four children.

As she was thinking about her past and her family’s future she heard a knock on the door.  She sat her cup down on the end table and walked across the apartment to answer her door.  She still got around pretty well for a woman of her age.  She had a walker, but never used it.  The kids had gotten it for her after she fell two years ago and broke her hip.  That was the same time they moved her into the assisted living facility, claiming it was closer to their homes than her house and they would be able to visit her more often.  Which she knew was a lie when it came out of her eldest daughter’s mouth, but she allowed them to move her anyway.  The only consistent visitors she had were the nurses to check up on her and the cleaning ladies, though she cleaned her own apartment.  Normally they came in to enjoy a cup of tea and take her trash out.  Today wasn’t a day for either, so she assumed it must be one of the kids stopping by unannounced.

When she opened the door she was surprised to see a young girl she didn’t recognize.  “Can I help you?”

The girl smiled as her eyes twinkled.  “Hi, I am Samantha.”  She trusted her hand forward.

The woman was confused, but shook the girl’s hand.  “It is nice to meet you.  I am Tabitha.”  The girl beamed.  “Is there something I can do for you?”

She looked nervous.  “I am a new volunteer.  They told me to come by your apartment.”

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2 thoughts on “Over Thinking Free-Writing”

  1. Whether you know it or not, you have given me a valuable lesson. My issues with free-writing have overflowed into my ability to even write a decent blog post. Starting with the character instead of the plot or topic is going to help. Thank you.

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  2. Free writing is something I fight all the time as well. I never do it because of that reason. Even when I took a creative writing class this summer where I needed three free writing pages a day, I didn’t “free write.” I was always writing something with a purpose: interview questions and answers, short story first drafts, even an outline for the first time.

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