By Troy Headrick
About a week ago, I wrote (and published) “Freewriting: A Great Writing Tool (Part One.” Today, I’m ready to follow up with part two.
Lots of people commented on the first installment. For example, deelib68 asked, “Is freewriting meant to be read afterwards? I did it once and it was very stream of consciousness. I did not look at it again. Would there be value in reading it?” That’s a very good question, by the way. Freewriting, as I explained in part one, happens very quickly and is almost certainly going to be unstructured and jumbled, exactly the way deelib68 described it. Despite these facts, there is certainly value in looking carefully at a piece of freewriting once it’s done. Let me show you why.
The following chunk of language is a piece of freewriting I wrote an hour or so before I began this blog:
Ok, so I’m going to write another piece on freewriting. I sort of know what I want to say in my follow up to the first blog but I’m not perfectly certain. That’s ok though. I’m not going to let my uncertainty worry me. Uncertainty should never worry us. I say that even though I feel worried about my uncertainty now. I guess I’m trying to have it both ways. Is uncertainty something to be concernewd about or not? That is the question. I guess uncertainty is the way we all live our lives all the time. How much are we really ever truly certain about? I mean 100 percent certain about? Maybe I’m just a weirdo but I seem to be uncertain a lot of the time. I think I’ve sort of gotten away from my original subject. What was my original subject? Does it matter? Does anything really matter? What matters? I guess being uncertain matters because its our deep wise part telling us to tread lightly to be wary, to keep our eyes open….
So I timed myself when I was doing this freewriting and it took me exactly three minutes. It probably would have been easier if I had done it by hand, but I used my keyboard instead.
So, after finishing, I went back and reread it. As you can see, it looks like the sort of language deelib68 described so well. But the longer I looked at it, the more I noticed something interesting. I spent a lot of time writing about uncertainty. And I even asked an interesting question: “How much are we really ever truly certain about?” and I finished by saying, “I guess being uncertain matters because it’s our deep wise part telling us to tread lightly, to be wary, to keep our eyes open.”
I think, by using the tool called freewriting, I found a topic (uncertainty) that could (perhaps) become a future blog. I had no idea that I was thinking these thoughts about this subject or that it was occupying my mind to this extent. Freewriting is a bit like opening the floodgates and watching what pours out. In this case, I very clearly appear to have a lot to say about uncertainty—even though I was not aware of this fact until I opened my mind and imagination. What poured out were some cool ideas. In the process, I think I actually hit upon a profound truth: We do seem to spend a lot of our lives in a state of uncertainty. And this could very well be because being uncertain about things is a kind of technique we use to protect ourselves. That’s pure speculation, but it’s something I need to think about. If, after ruminating on all this, these ideas pan out and seem to be worth pursuing, they could give birth to an interesting blog.
This whole blog was a way of demonstrating how freewriting works, what it looks like, and how it can help us discover things about ourselves and our thinking that are both surprising and fruitful.
What are your thoughts about this experiment? I look forward to hearing your responses!
Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found at Thinking Boy: Blog & Art.