Free Writes and Idea Boxes

In my final year of college, I had an amazing creative writing teacher who stressed the importance of free writing. She wanted us to sit down every day and write for 15 minutes, no stopping, even if we just wrote the same three words over and over until inspiration returned. At the beginning, we all thought she was crazy but as time went on we realized that there were sentences in the midst of all that nonsense that were real and beautiful and couldn’t have come to be without all the rest of the words on the page. It was amazing to look back over lines of rubbish and see that one perfect idea! She was really on to something.

The trouble was, at least for me, when I sat down to write there was nothing to pull from. I was a full-time student and full-time mom of two girls 2 and under and I was tired. But I knew I would have to write, would have to find a way to get the words “unstuck.” So I spent a week creating and cutting and stocking my prompt box. I took overheard phrases, unknown words, unique situations, and online suggestions and wrote each one out on a slip of paper and stuffed them into my little green tin to wait for the right time.

And I’ve decided that this year would be a great year to get back into free writing. I am about to have another little girl and my plate is already so full that sitting down for hours at a time to work on my novel isn’t going to happen. But I need to write. I have to write. So I made a goal for myself: 350 words a day. I rediscovered my prompt box and I am happy to report that my investment back then is paying off now. So far, I have surpassed my word goal on some days and failed miserably for weeks at a time. But the important thing is, there are beautiful lines; there are lines that are worth saving. There are, in the midst of my messy life and even messier writing, ideas that develop lines of truth that will birth entire stories. And I can’t wait to share the finished products with you.

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One thought on “Free Writes and Idea Boxes

  1. Free writing is amazing stuff. My first English professor in my very first class in my freshman year of college introduced me to it. I still have the free write journal he had us start. Crazy all over the place stuff, but poignant. Your blog makes me want to restart it.

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