Freewriting - The Ultimate Creative Exercise

Posted by luke on

One of the biggest obstacles that you can ever encounter while trying to be creative is your inner critic. This is the part of you that cuts off an idea mid-thought and is always on the lookout for what is wrong with an idea.

This part of your mind is not a bad thing. In fact, we need it in order to discern which ideas are good and which ones are worth throwing out. However, it has its place in the creative process and it definitely should not be a part of the beginning stages. Because when it is, it seems to step on any creative seed that your mind tries to sow.

One way to get over this problem of being hypercritical of your own work is through the ‘freewriting’ exercise. This exercise enables you to create a judgement-free creative zone, where you can explore each and every idea that comes into your mind.

How does it work?

Freewriting is incredibly simple. All you need to do is to set a timer (usually 10 minutes is a good starting point) and then write non-stop until the time is up. That’s it.

Write literally anything that comes into your mind and don’t stop writing. This means leaving in all spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes and weird non-sequiturs that your mind comes up with. If you are stopping to think about anything or hitting the backspace button on your keyboard, you are thinking too much.

Even if you are writing about how the chair you are sitting on is a bit too spongy for your liking, or about how you could really go for a block of chocolate, you are doing the exercise correctly. Allowing your mind to drift off into these normally ‘off limits’ places loosens up your creative cogs and will allow you to handle the creative challenge at hand more effectively.

Some tips to supercharge the process:

One thing you may be wondering is ‘how is writing about my chair going to help me come up with ideas for this radio campaign?’ It is important to remember that this stage is just a starting point. You should just write like that to get the ball rolling, and then switch over to a slightly more focussed freewriting exercise. Once you are sufficiently loosened up, here are some things that we recommend to supercharge the process:

  1. Write specifically about the subject at hand.

For example, if you are writing a radio campaign for a company that sells pencils. One thing that you can do is just write about pencils for ten minutes straight. Just write non-stop about how they look, how they feel in your hand, the sounds that they make or whatever! Once you are finished, you can read over what you wrote and you will have many potential directions for your ad.

  1. Prepare your body.

What you want to be able to do is get yourself in the most creative place possible. This means preparing yourself both physically and mentally for the creative task at hand.

If you want to get the most out of your creative mind, do the following.

  • Get a large glass of water and drink the whole thing
  • After drinking the bottle, get ready for some stretching (this may seem like it is completely unrelated to being creative, but just give it a try – you have nothing to lose!)
  • Once you have finished with the stretching, the next thing you are going to do is some light exercises. This will cause a release of endorphins in your body, which will then cause a cascade of positive emotions to flood your system. Remember, the body and the mind are intimately linked and to help one is to help the other.

    Just do the following.
    - 20 bodyweight squats,
    - 20 push-ups and
    - 10 jumping jacks.

If you are in a workplace environment where you feel conscious about doing this in front of other people, either find a room with a bit more privacy or do it outside.

Once you have done these exercises, you will notice that your body is buzzing with positive energy. This energy will undoubtedly translate into your creativity. It is important to remember that your creativity is like a muscle, and you need to constantly keep exercising it if you want it to function at its best.

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