Gregor Connections LLC

Freewriting—Learning to Fall without Fear

By Shanna D. Gregor

Writing is much like riding a motorcycle—or at least learning to write is like learning to ride. On my fifth birthday, my dad came home with a red, QA50 Honda mini-bike in the back of his pickup truck. He was so excited for me to ride it. He started it for me, and put me on it with little instructions. I guess he thought that since I knew how to ride a bike, I could easily learn to ride a mini-bike.  My answer to that at five years old, after giving it gas and running my new gift up a big oak tree, where it came right back down on me, burning my leg—was, “No, thank you. Take it back!”

The mini-bike sat in the garage for three years before I defeated my fear of falling (and failing) and finally got on it and learned to ride. (I loved it—and rode bikes until a few years before getting my first car.) chalkboard freewrite

So, the biggest thing in pursuing your desire to write is to be able to fall without fear. Most people procrastinate until they have to cram that English paper or report for work in at the last minute. Even more often people write a sentence, delete it, write a paragraph, delete it and spend hours sitting at a blank screen.

The more you practice without fear of falling (or perceived failure), the more you will look forward to any writing challenge.

One secret to overcoming that fear is freewriting. It is an exercise specifically to help you warm up and get ideas on paper. Here’s the basics of how it works:

  • Write for 10 to 15 minutes about anything and everything that pops into your head.
  • Let go of any concern for complete sentences, correct punctuations and misspellings. (This is hard for some of us.)
  • If you come to a pause in thought and it seems like nothing is coming, repeat the last few words you wrote and launch off from that into the mysterious deep.
  • Set an alarm; (the one on my cell phone works well).
  • Don’t stop until you hear the “ding.” Once you’ve completed the freewrite, read what you wrote and highlight the parts you like.
  • Mark anything that really stands out or speaks to you, moves you emotionally, makes you laugh or makes you say—“I’m a genius!”

It’s very possible that some of your freewrite will give you an idea or a starting point for something you want or need to write. If nothing amazing happens, that’s okay too. The point is to get over your fear of failing to put something on the page.

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Gregor Connections LLC