Free Writing: An Experiment

Maintaining a journal is the ultimate goal. Who wouldn’t want to collect memories and ideas of the now to cherish someday down the line. Reality check: it requires not only time but the conscious effort to do so. Jump forward to when I started reading about free writing. The act of continuously writing for a set period of time with positively no regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. Good ol’ stream of conscious, typed out. Jump forward to this moment, I want to commit to a habit of writing and journaling. Reality check, forming habits isn’t easy. Hence the birth of the free writing experiment with coworkers and the world wide web to hold me accountable to the following:

Plan of attack
Monday through Friday, I will dive deep into free writing for seven minutes. This will continue for the duration of a year. We’re looking at just under 2,000 minutes of free flowing, mind emptying, page filling, goodness. You’re all holding me accountable, right? At the six month marker I’ll dabble in some self reflection around how things are going. Progress update will be included.

Ground rules
At the very core of what free writing is all about, the only rule is don’t stop and don’t think. Being the year of free writing is encased by an overarching personal experiment — a few ground rules will be set in action to help gauge results later on down the road:

  • Start every session by noting time and date
  • End every session by noting music — if applicable, current mood, and word count
  • Commit. Every. Single. Day. It’s only seven minutes, right?

What gives?
This is a bit of a multifaceted experiment. Free writing is best known for breaking through creative blocks, finding your own narrative, or becoming a better writer. Digging deeper around what free writing could mean for me for my own personal and professional growth — I will continue to ask myself a few guiding questions:

Am I better writer?
Tangibly it may be a challenge to answer yay or nay — but as I author monthly blogs, the question will become: has writing become a more fluid process? Do I have patterns in how I overcome mental blocks? Will I later be able to tap into those patterns when I find myself stuck?

Can a repetitive routine have effect on personal creativity and productivity?
Will my pre-lunch productivity rise to unearthly levels? Can a mind emptying regime kick start creativity? Big ideas do seem to be floating around the subconscious. These ideas float to the surface in the shower, on a run, or can wake you from slumber. Can free writing tap into those moments?

Does free writing have similar results as mediation?
Can free writing help harness the ever-churning mental dialogue that is often an uphill battle to quiet down? In an article titled Better Than Meditation, the author notes similarities between meditation and free writing. A time limit with gentle persistence of staying on track, and a notion I particularly like, “being an observer rather than a critic of what’s happening in your head”.

With purpose and curiosity, a timer and a keyboard, morning writings will be as habitual as morning alarms.

Originally posted on Elevator Up’s blog on March 29, 2016