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College of Arts and Letters

Graduate Writing Assistance Program

Writing Assistance



Freewriting is probably one of the best known prewriting strategies and also one of the most useful. Popularized by Peter Elbow, the goal of freewriting is to get words on paper, to fill up the blank page without worrying about grammar, spelling, or even coherence.

To do a frewriting exercise, simply force yourself to write without stopping for ten minutes. Sometimes you will produce good writing, but that's not the goal. Sometimes you will produce garbage, but that's not the goal either. You may stay on one topic, you may flip repeatedly from one to another: it doesn't matter. Sometimes you will produce a good record of your stream of consciousness, but often you can't keep up. If you can't keep up. Speed is not the goal, though sometimes the process revs you up. If you can't think of anything to write, write about how that feels or repeat over and over "i have nothing to write" or "Nonsense" or "No." If you get stuck in the middle of a sentence or thought, just repeat the last word or phrase till something comes along. The only point is to keep writing.

Source: Writing With Power by Peter Elbow, p13.

Benefits of Freewriting

  • Makes writing easier by overcoming the blank page problem
  • It is a good way to warm up before drafting
  • Can help you start writing when you don't want to write
  • Can help you come up with topics to write about

Here is an example of freewriting produced on the theme of "green."

Green is a color I/ we often take for granted. Although it may be the color of new spring leaves or the chosen hue of the Treasury Department, I am far more likely to meditate over the eye watering glare/glory of a blue sky. Green for fashion suffered reversals during the 60's and 70's with the well named puce and avacoado. It seemes that every house I lived in as a child attempted to escape/cover up the ever-present avacado green kitchen appliences.

In the past, I held the color green in some (dispute?) what good was

Green is a color more often noticed in its absence than presence. More often noticed in the breech... Green is a hue taken for granted.