How to Use Freewriting to Generate Short Story Ideas

Freewriting is one of the best and easiest exercises you can do. It requires a minimum of time and prep and is perfect for those suffering from writer's block. Freewriting is a way to generate new short story ideas and to go places with your creative writing you wouldn't go otherwise. At the very least it will get you to set pen to paper.

Do you learn best by example? See one way freewriting can play out in practice.

  1. Sit down at a desk with pen and paper, ideally in some quiet place, though freewriting can be done anywhere. Deadlines and time-limits are amazing devices for activating your ability to concentrate.
  2. Decide beforehand that you will only be writing for ten minutes (longer if you'd like) and that you will not stop before that time is up. Set a timer or an alarm.
  3. Write without stopping until the timer goes off. Do not lift your pen from the paper, even if this means writing, "I don't know what to write," over and over again. Write nonsense, write anything, but don't stop writing.
  4. Look back over what you've written and see if anything sparks your interest. If so, use it as a point of departure for a short story, or for tomorrow's freewriting exercise. If nothing comes of it, don't be discouraged. The only goal of this exercise is to fill the page with words. If it leads somewhere, consider it a bonus.
    Fragments or even one word that you decide to keep are successes! Look closely and try not to dismiss what you've come up with. Part of the point is to get out of your head and let your subconscious take over. If you able to concentrate on the process rather than the content, sometimes the content will end up surprising you. Don't worry about spelling or making sense, just be sure that you aren't allowing yourself to stop. Like a yogi concentrating on their breathing in order to get "focus," you will concentrate on writing consistently in order to create.
  1. If you want to get out of your own head during your freewriting sessions -- or you just want to shake things up -- these writing prompts or these writing prompts can help to start you off. Using them in combination can be even more inspiring!

    Still feeling a little unsure? Check out this step-by-step example.

    What You Need

    • Pen
    • Paper
    • Timer or alarm