Freewriting is a technique that helps you clear mental space so that thoughts
about an issue in question can emerge that had been below the surface of your
attention--insights that you were not able, at first, to acknowledge (see also
Supportive Listening, q.v.).
In a freewriting exercise, you should not take your pen off the paper.
Keep writing even if you find yourself stating over and over again, "I don't
know what to say." What you write won't be seen by anyone else, so don't go
back to tidy up sentences, grammar, spelling. You will probably diverge from
the topic, at least for a time while you acknowledge other preoccupations.
That's OK--it's one of the purposes of the exercise. However, if you keep
writing for seven-ten minutes, you should expose some thoughts about the topic
that had been below the surface of your attention--that's another of the aims
of the exercise. Reference: Elbow, P. 1981. Writing With Power. New
York: Oxford U. P.
In a guided freewriting exercise, you continue where a sentence I provide leads
off (examples follow).
At the start of a project
Early on in a project
- "I would like my work on X to influence Y to make changes in Z..."
- "I often/ sometimes have trouble getting going until..."
- "The differences between investigating ... and investigating .... might be
- "There are SO many aspects to my topic. I could look at..... and...."
- "If I was given more background in how to analyze society-science relations, I
would be better able to..."
- "From my past experience, the kinds of issues or aspects of research I tend to
overlook or discount include..."
When you begin to draft a report
- "When I think about sharing my incomplete work, what comes up is.... And this
means I should....."
- "It may be very premature to lay out the arguments involved in my research, but
it may help me define where I am going, so let me try..."
- "Incorporating regular freewriting into my resesarch practice is (difficult?
wonderful? a not yet achieved ideal?)..."
- "In the next two months what I most want to see happening in my project is...
What is blocking me realizing this vision is...."
- "Usually when I try to plan my work, what happens is.."
- "Some aspect of research I'd like to be able to explain clearly for my project
- "If I had to state a question that keeps my subject, audience and purpose most
clearly in focus, I would say..."
- "My ideal report would lead readers to see... I would grab their attention
by... and lead them through a series of steps, namely....."