How does a writer freewrite? We'll show you how!

1
Get a paper and pen, and set a timer for ten minutes.

Freewriting Tools. Ginny Wiehardt

Ten minutes may not sound like much time, but you'll be surprised at how much you can write if you follow the instructions and write without stopping. Keep in mind that freewriting is just a way of warming up. Some days inspiration will strike, and other days your freewriting session might be composed mostly of "Keep writing, still writing, still writing." That's OK, too. Don't worry about the result. Focus on writing without judgment. A word or sentence you are inspired by is all you need to start a new piece of fiction!

2
Write without stopping until the timer rings. (See the transcription below.)

Freewriting Sample. Ginny Wiehardt

Freewriting. What to write. Grocery store. Girl with the strawberry mole. First with father, now with mother. Fireworks in the park. Uncurious women. Evening. Cooler air. Couple sitting in their garden with their bare feet in a kiddie pool. Lawyer boyfriends know all about open container laws. Don't stop. Eight minutes to go? Don't stop. Packing suitcase. Bring the mini suitcase home from Canada. Shuttered houses. Still windmills. Half-shut cat eyes. Staying late in the office. Rain in Texas. Webs of fire ants floating down river. Great rivers. I don't know anything about Great Rivers, but we walked down to the creek the last year we lived in the dorms. Through the rain storm, Clemente and I, to see the swollen creek rushing below, threatening to overflow its banks. That's how it happens in that part of Texas. One moment the creek is a safe trickle and an hour later it could sweep you away. but it doesn't last. By the next day, the ground would have absorbed most of the water. We only had that afternoon. But we had that afternoon. We were barefoot, I remember that, though I don't know where we left our shoes. We didn't hold hands, but we felt close, as though we had. As though we had been through something more. As though the flood was standing in for something.

3
Choose a few things to develop into a story.

Woman writing in journal in forest
Hero Images/Getty Images

In this writing sample, I see two different possibilities. For starters, I could focus on the little girl with the strawberry mole. Maybe her mother is actually embarrassed by the mole. Maybe people mistook the mole for a wound of some kind when the girl was a baby, and the young mother came to feel that there was something wrong with her. Maybe over time the mole had come to represent her sense of her daughter's otherness. Or I could take it a science fiction or magic realism direction: maybe the girl really does have some kind of supernatural power associated with the mole, and the mother has a reason to feel afraid of her daughter.

The more obvious choice, though, would be to continue the story of the walk in the rain. My original musings were about a walk I took with a friend during college, but for dramatic purposes I could change it from a platonic relationship to a romantic one. I probably would want to write about an adult relationship instead of a college relationship, so "We walked down to the creek the last year we lived in the dorms," would become, "We walked down to the creek the last day we lived on Hemlock." Now there's a story: A couple takes one last walk to a loved creek before moving out of a house. They're separating, and the separation has to do with the man's coldness. The swollen creek becomes a symbol for the emotions the narrator has had to repress in living with him. Yet they are both still the kind of people who take barefoot walks in the rain. Or perhaps they used to be those kinds of people, and they're also saying good-bye to their former selves, the selves who fell in love with each other.

Anyway, you get the idea. Feel free to choose a writing prompt, if you'd like, and then get a timer, a pen, and some paper, and try it yourself!

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