Set yourself free

Be free

Freewriting is what you write when there’s no one looking. Freewriting is the madman in your brain taking the controls and sending words all the way down to the tips of your fingers. Freewriting is where you’ll find the most brilliant story ideas, if you look hard enough.

To freewrite, just write. Write the first word that comes to mind and then follow it with another. Set an alarm if you can. Don’t worry about grammar, structure, character development – just write. And when you’re done, stand back and take a look. Is there anything in there you can use. I’ll say there is!

Here’s an example:

‘Right now I’m sitting at my computer and the coffee cup is on the edge of my desk. It looks a little like an iceberg, as it is white and chipped and cold because the coffee has been in it since the morning as I didn’t do the washing up last night and the sink is full of plates and saucers. All those plates look surreal sitting unwashed in the sink like that. All at different angles like a Picasso painting with ketchup instead of paint dribbled over the plates. I wonder if Picasso got his ideas from waking up one morning and seeing his jumble of washing up in the sink I wonder if all the museums in the world actually have pictures of Picasso’s washing up and not his mistresses and Guernica and does that mean the joke is on us?’

The above freewrite might seem silly but it’s also an example of how freewriting could, potentially, inspire a proper piece of writing. This daft thought about Picasso’s washing up could easily be worked into a comedy radio play where a hung-over Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse wake up after a night out on the town and dare each other to paint a picture of the mess of washing up in the sink. Thus, the modern art movement is accidentally launched. Another possibility you could take from this freewrite is the concept that something generally considered ugly and in need of repair or attention (washing up) can lead to tremendous artistic inspiration – and this idea could form the kernel of a short story or a poem.

Here, chose one of the prompts below and let it lead you into a three minute freewrite.

I wish I had said….

It was no use pretending….

A long time ago…

For the first time ever….


About suehealy

Literary Manager at the Finborough Theatre and associate lecturer in playwriting at the universities of Lincoln and Portsmouth, Irish playwright Sue Healy has a PhD in modern theatre history. Her most recent stage play Imaginationship (2018) recently enjoyed a sell-out, extended run at the Finborough Theatre and is headed to the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough in August. Cow (2017) was staged at the Etcetera Theatre and Brazen (2016) ran at the King’s Head, funded by Arts Council England. Her work has been performed at the Criterion, Hackney Attic, Claremorris Festival (New Writing Award winner), Brighton Festival (the Sussex Playwrights’ Award Winner) and Sterts Theatre and has been developed by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and support by the Peggy Ramsay Award. Her nine radio-plays have broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (Opening Lines winner), WLRfm and KCLR96fm. She has won prizes for her prose including the Molly Keane and HISSAC Awards and the Escalator Prize. A UEA Creative Writing MA alumna, Sue spent eleven years in Budapest editing Hungary A.M. Sue also tutors Creative Writing at CityLit. View all posts by suehealy

8 responses to “Set yourself free

  • Diane

    Great idea – I’m definately trying that – actually can’t believe I’ve never done it. Thanks

  • Gillian Colbert

    My three minute free write 😉 …

    For the first time ever I am intimidated by the page in front of me. The blank sheet is screaming at me to write, Write, WRITE, but the words don’t seem to want to come. I am trying very hard to be poignant and pithy and say something sage, but the truth is that I think I just want words on the page. I hear that rhyme and it’s making me smile and considering my last hour on the phone it’s the best thing I‘ve done in a while. I think I’m now in a rhyming groove, but that doesn’t help me plan my next move. I think I’m going to have to jump out of this beat, but wouldn’t it be so neat if I could keep up the rhyme. Alas, I’ve had two spelling errors in that last line and it took me out of my flow, but it was good while it lasted. I feel a little bit better now, the page isn’t so white. It’s no longer glowing, now if only I can keep these words flowing.

    • suehealy

      Brilliant, Gillian. It takes a brave heart to post a freewrite just like that.I can hear a lot of rhythm in what you write – in addition to your references to music. Very musical, slightly rap like. Really great! Brava!

      • Gillian Colbert

        Thanks. It was fun. It reminded me of when I took a life drawing class and we warmed up with broad strokes that were only vaguely human like. This felt like a writing warm up. I think I’ll employ it from now on!

  • Maria S McDonald

    Love the concept, Sue. I’ll definitely use one of those ‘opener’ soon 😉

  • Set yourself free | A Writer's Notepad |

    […] Set yourself free Freewriting is what you write when there's no one looking. Freewriting is the madman in your brain taking the controls and sending words all the way down to the tips of your fingers. Freewriting is… Source: […]

  • Don’t Think… Just Write! « Maria S McDonald

    […] so long ago, I came across the concept of Freewriting, written by Sue Healy. She describes a writing exercise in which you put whatever that first comes […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: