When I want to get deeply into a topic, I start freewriting. This entails quickly throwing out ideas, writing something, explaining for myself, and going on.
A friend of mine has a delightful name for the types of footnotes that we sometimes write in later drafts that are really footnotes for our own satisfaction – “in-notes.” An “in-note” is sometimes close to a freewrite, though it is meticulously crafted later in the process. In the form of a draft, sometimes an idea leaks or needs to solidify for a while off the page.
The last paragraph ought to suggest that freewriting does not start at the beg… that it is not just a process for the start of writing. The ellipsis was where I was tempted to delete. I prefer bolding, underlining, or starring what seems important.
It is difficult to feel comfortable typing whatever on a page. Every word must count, I’ve long been taught, and so I worry over many of my first drafts overmuch. The freewrite is not a draft. It is the generation of words and sentences around an idea.
What are some strategies?
b. I find it easy to throw out an irrelevant listing at times when I can’t think of something immediately.
c. B is actually a strategy.
d. Sometimes it’s good to transition to a different form. The list, for instance. Julian of Norwich didn’t list things in three for nothing, and if we only get to two or end up with six, SOMETHING INVOLVING THE SACRAMENTS.
e. In addition to typing something irrelevant, I find it useful to make note of where I would say something more prepared if it were a draft. The spaces to be filled by lit review, by citations, by further explications of text.
f. I like to set a defined time for this form of writing. 20 minutes works for me. This is to be treated as a minimum, rather than a set time.
g. I like to switch up mediums. Typing enables me to quickly express my thoughts. Writing enables me to doodle in the margins more. Some find one mode more kinetically engaging than the other – they are able to think better while typing or while writing.
h. If typing, resist the urge to correct as you type. I have broken this rule a lot already.
i. For the particularly good ideas that come out here, maybe set aside a slightly more formal writing time to get them out properly. For example, with this list, I would delete A and C and refine many of the others.
The tension I’m encountering here is between doing a freewrite about freewriting and making this the final draft that I publish for the world to see. Blogs are often light on drafting, but even so there is the expectation of having more concision than I’m currently exercising. Perhaps it would be most convenient to derive the most relevant parts of this freewrite for a draft, and leave this on the bottom?
Another thing about the list – “free” should denote some sort of freedom. Of what? Freedom of determining one’s process for oneself. The freedom to say something irrelevant or wrong. The freedom to string together associations that will later be bolstered with links, sources, organization, and revision. This isn’t the same as being open, incidentally, though then again calling this process “openwriting” would convey many of the same values – being open to the ideas that are coming out. It’s important to also be free to pursue a idea for an extended period of time, and then to return to the research and the beginning stages of composition.
If I find myself pausing, like I just did here, there’s nothing wrong with that. I can reread what I have said, use another duck interjector, or transition to some other idea.
Summary and rephrasing are good strategies. I tried using the word “rephrasement,” but I don’t think that’s a term. Why did I choose that? -ment seems to suggest a kind of … the word establishment comes to mind, an edifice or a thing. If I were to follow this up, I would want to look further in a dictionary, and perhaps look for “rephrasement” in COCA.