Finding writing ideas in your own voice
I read a lot of posts about ways to beat writer’s block. Like most writers, I suffer from this ailment on a regular basis. I’m always looking for new ways to beat the block, but it seems I always end up going back to my tried and true remedy. I jump into a free write.
One of the first posts I did here on Medium was about the rules of doing a free write. And because I’ve already written about it before, I won’t go into all the details and rules. Truth is, I rarely follow the rules anyway. When I first learned how to do a free write, I thought it was odd that there were rules. What’s the point of free writing if you have to adhere to rules? So, here’s my personal take on how to do a free write.
Write your thoughts verbatim
Whatever it is that’s going through your mind, write it down. Write it as a thought, a conversation, questions from your inner voices, whatever. Just get it out of your head and onto the page. As you go along, you’ll find a few miniscule gems in a sea of muck. Pick out those gems.
Embrace the weird
In a few of my own free writes, I’ve found some really odd bits. A few times, I began to question my own sanity. But that’s what makes each of us unique. Our little bits of weirdness. And at times, we may not think of them as weird (to us anyway), but someone else might read it and think you’re completely bonkers. That’s okay, it’s a place to build on. Use it to your advantage.
Ask the stupid questions
Remember when you were a kid and you’d ask all those silly questions? Why is the sky blue? Why do the stars sparkle at night? Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? Well this is the best time to ask those questions, then come up with the answers. Do they have to be right? Not necessarily. If you’re trying to come up with a great non-fiction piece, well then yes. But if you’re looking to do a work of fiction, you can add any answers you want.
Never toss out a free write
I’m adding this because I’ve done this. I was dumb enough to pick out a few things from one of my free writes, then deleted the rest. I’ve kicked myself ever since. I know there were a few other oddities in there that I could have worked with, but they were passing thoughts that I’ll probably never see again. Now, I keep each one in a special file. I glance over them and think, “Oh, that’s a good place to start”, then run with it. I’m not saying it will create magnanimous works of literature, but it might help.
There is no right or wrong way to do a free write. It’s simply a tool to get you writing and thinking at the same time. And though there are hundreds of ways to come up with ideas to write about, this is a way to find your own writing voice in your search. If you’re fighting with writer’s block, try doing a free write and see where your own thoughts can take you.