So you want to learn how to freewrite.
You’re probably wondering:
- What is freewriting?
- How do I freewrite?
- How can freewriting help my business?
Today, I tried freewriting for the first time.
According to Wikipedia, freewriting is a prewriting technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. It produces raw, often unusable material, but helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism. It is used mainly by prose writers and writing teachers. Some writers use the technique to collect initial thoughts and ideas on a topic, often as a preliminary to formal writing.
Or, in common folk language, freewriting means sitting down and writing whatever comes to mind without worrying about grammar or anything else for a few minutes.
I’ve first heard about freewriting from my buddy Frank that does it all the time, but I was never curious about it enough to actually try it.
Today I sat in a coffee shop and worked on an article, and noticed that I really struggled with staying focused. Every 3-5 minutes, I kept getting these random thoughts at the back of my mind and that urge to check my Facebook or Instagram account. I just felt stuck, and didn’t understand what was going on.
Then, all of a sudden, I had an idea.
If I had all of these thoughts in my head and I wanted to get them out of my head, why not just sit down and write them out?
So I did. I sat down for about 10 minutes and just wrote wrote and wrote. I wrote 1349 words in 10 minutes, which must be some kind of a record.
I wrote about my business, about my work with clients, about writing, about relationships, about things I’m grateful for, about the impact I want to make in my life… I wrote about everything that came to mind with zero censorship.
It was random. It was uncomfortable. It was eye-opening.
And it only took 10 minutes!
Throughout this freewriting process, I got 5 very interesting insights that I want to share with you in this post.
Let’s dive in!
Insight #1: Freewriting helps you clear your head
Before I started the freewriting exercise, my thoughts were racing. I couldn’t focus no matter what I did. It felt like my head was about to explode.
For example, this was one of the passages I wrote:
I really want to build a bigger online business. I really want to help people. I want to feel that passion to help them that other people have. I wish I could bring my energy and passion from podcast interviews to my day to day work. I just don’t know what to do. I’m focusing on this one thing but I’m not sure if I’m doing enough. I wish I woke up earlier at like 5am. But that would mean going to bed at 9pm and that feels impossible right now. I want to have time to hang out with friends. Why do I hang out with my friends? It’s because I like it. It’s comfortable. I can lose myself in talking to them and playing games. I can just relax and chill. I feel like if I woke up at 5am I couldn’t really do that. I would just work all day long.
It’s hard to focus when you have thoughts like that going on through the back of your mind all the time!
No wonder I couldn’t focus on writing about one thing when I’m thinking about waking up at 5am, building a bigger business, feeling more passionate, podcast interviews, hanging out with friends… All in less than a minute!
After the exercise, I noticed that I felt way more calm, collected, and that my mind started to slow down. It was a lot easier for me to focus on one thing and write this article.
Now I know that whenever I feel like my brain is racing, I can just freewrite for a few minutes to make it slow down.
Insight #2: Freewriting helps you observe your subconscious thinking
Going through the freewriting exercise was fascinating to me because I could really observe how my brain worked.
For example, here’s another passage I wrote:
I miss going for walks and spending time outside. I don’t want to be locked in a house all the time. It would be great to live in the US where I could work and do all of my calls in the mornings. Then I could wake up earlier and have all afternoon for myself. I can’t do that right now. I don’t know why I’m paying so much for an expensive apartment. It’s not worth it. It’s big but it doesn’t feel like home. Why am I so negative all the time? I want to be more positive. I need to start. Now.
As I wrote that, it was fascinating for me to see the associations and connections my brain made, as well as how I reacted to them (for example: the “why am I so negative all the time? I want to be more positive.”.
It was also awesome to see some of the subconscious thinking that I never saw before (for example: “It would be great to live in the US where I could work and do all of my calls in the mornings. Then I could wake up earlier and have all afternoon for myself”).
I realized that there are things I’m really unhappy about right now (like having afternoons full of client calls) that I need to change in my schedule, which I haven’t really noticed earlier. I also noticed that my apartment doesn’t feel like home, which I need to do something about as well.
Before the freewriting exercise, I would just feel frustrated about this problem – whereas now I can actually do something about it.
Insight #3: Freewriting is great for copywriting
Another thing I realized while freewriting was just how powerful it could be for copywriting.
In copywriting, you usually try to capture the exact language and thoughts of your potential customers, which can sometimes be difficult – especially when it comes to capturing the subconscious thinking.
But through freewriting, that’s exactly what I was able to pull out of myself – the exact words I say to myself consciously and subconsciously.
Now I’m thinking about different ways in which I could use freewriting to write better copy.
Could I imagine a younger version of myself that has problems that I want to help my audience solve? Can I think about the desires and dreams that that younger version of myself had? And can I then freewrite about it?
Another idea that comes to mind is to freewrite regularly, then once I solve the problems I’m having right now I can go back and look at my old notes to find the exact language I was using.
I haven’t tried using freewriting in this way yet, but I imagine it could become a super powerful copywriting tool!
Insight #4: Freewriting helps you notice the negative thinking
When I started freewriting, I was shocked to discover just how negative I was.
It seemed like for every positive thing I said, I would spark 2 or 3 negative thoughts which were related or completely unrelated. That really blew my mind!
For example, even when I wrote about things that I appreciate in my life right now, I soon threw myself into a spiral of negative thinking:
What do I appreciate? I appreciate spending time with Aida. I appreciate that she cared for me this morning. That she tried to make me feel better. That she got us the pancake syrup. That we will go eat pancakes together tonight. I appreciate that my parents are still alive. I want to start sharing negative thoughts but need to train myself not to do it. Wow I could keep writing like this forever. This is interesting. Why is writing like this so easy but writing for business so hard? I need to get out of the downward spiral. Positive thoughts.
If you read through my earlier passages, you’ll notice I did that on a number of occasions – and overall about 2/3 of my writing was negative.
Freewriting helped me raise awareness around my thinking, and through the second half of the exercise I intentionally focused on more positive thoughts like what I’m proud of:
What am I proud of? I am proud of connecting a lot of my clients to each other. I need to stop having these BUTs and negative thoughts after each positive thought. I might cry. It’s hard for me to give myself credit and experience positive emotions. Why is this so hard? Ok, what am I proud of? Getting 2 renewals for TPC. Helping Heidi explode her business. Helping Jenni do the same and help a lot of people. I’m proud of helping Antrese launch her membership as well. I’m proud of Diana for getting fully booked with clients. I’m proud for myself for going through a painful therapy today. I’m proud of winning 3 gold medals in lifting. I’m proud of building a business out of nothing. I’m proud of working through my social anxiety.
This wasn’t easy, but I feel like I could get better at feeling more positive and having more positive thoughts by focusing more of my freewriting sessions on positive thinking like this.
Insight #5: Freewriting helps you get more clarity
Finally, I felt like freewriting gave me a lot of clarity on where I wanted to take my business.
For example, I spent some time freewriting about a product idea I had:
I really want to create some kind of a membership program. I LOVE TPC. I want to bring in more people like TPC people into my business. How can I do that? What do they have in common? What values to they have in common?
They are unapologetic. They want to do BIG things in life. They aren’t satisfied with something small. They don’t want to work 24/7. They want to feel connected to other people. Maybe through an event? They want to genuinely help people. They want to push themselves to their limits and beyond them. Maybe they want to be the best in the industry themselves, or they just want to be the best version of themselves. Who are the people I would like to have in my community? People like Jenni, Heidi, Karen, Nagina, Camille. People like Cary. That would be awesome. To connect these cool people together and just see magic happen. I want to find a way to foster CONNECTION. I want to bring opportunities to people. Like Selena’s IM community. How can I make that happen?
I want to spread positivity. I want to connect amazing people together. I want to give them amazing knowledge. Pass on what I learned. But also learn from them and help them teach each other. That would be amazing. I really enjoy learning. I’m curious. I also love creating and connecting. Even though it’s hard for me. I like making people smile. I like helping them. I should send the TPC link to Peter. I am really excited about the new version of TPC. I’m going to make it even better than the last one. I really can’t wait to get started!!
I knew that I had to think about what values my customers shared in order to build a strong community or a movement that would be a part of a membership community that I want to build.
I just never got around to putting my thoughts around that on paper. Through freewriting, my thoughts just flew onto paper and I already have a lot more clarity around this idea than I had before.
This means that I can stop thinking so much about my membership idea and move towards planning it and building it.
The 10-minute freewriting challenge
It’s crazy to see just how powerful 10 minutes of freewriting was for me.
So if you’ve read this far, I challenge you to try it out for yourself as well.
It’s really very simple.
- STEP #1: Open a google document or get a pen and paper
- STEP #2: Set a timer to 5 or 10 minutes
- STEP #3: Just write whatever comes to mind
Then, once you do it, leave a comment below to let me know how the experience was!
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