Freewriting is one of the better techniques that writers can use early on in the process. If you have an idea for a topic but aren’t sure whether it will work or not, one way to find out is through freewriting. Additionally, if you know what your topic is (and perhaps even have a working thesis), you can come up with additional ideas and/or content for your essay through freewriting.
Freewriting means what its name suggests: writing without constraint. Too often, writers get self-conscious about writing and want everything to be perfect the first time. The practice of freewriting eliminates these obstacles and allows a writer to generate creativity.
How it works:
With a possible essay topic or idea in mind, get out a pen and a piece of paper, and spend a set amount of time writing about this topic (5-10 minutes is a good timeframe). Write down anything and everything that comes to mind, even if you don’t think it is useful or relatable. Once you start, do not stop writing; do not criticize or edit what you have written; do not even read what you have written yet. There will be plenty of time for editing and evaluating when you are finished. For now, the idea is to get as much down on the paper as possible, even if it isn’t particularly well written and/or contains grammatical mistakes.
Once you are finished, now read what you have written. Is there a main idea that has emerged that can become a topic for an essay? Are there several ideas that relate to a potential topic/thesis and can be written about in more detail in an essay? Are there actual sentences that can be used in an essay, even if they have to be revised? More than likely, the answer to these questions is yes. If so, you now have a start for your essay. At this point, you can begin the initial process of developing a working thesis, grouping your ideas together through brainstorming, and/or creating an outline.
It works even when it doesn’t:
Although unlikely, it is possible that what you wrote will not lead to further ideas or development. If this is the case, don’t worry. Thanks to this freewriting exercise, you now know that this potential topic or idea for your essay may not be the right one for this particular assignment, and you can try out another topic. Coming to this realization now, after only a few minutes of freewriting, is much better than realizing it later, once more time has been committed to this potential topic. In this way, freewriting saves time whether it leads to specific topics/ideas or not.
Want to become a better writer? Perhaps you want to write novels, or maybe you just want to get better grades in your essay writing assignments, or maybe you’d like to start a popular blog.
If you want to write better, you need practice. But what does a writing practice actually look like? In this post, I’m going to give you everything you need to kick off your writing practice and become a better writer faster.
How Do You Practice Writing?
This was the question I had when I first started The Write Practice in 2011. I knew how to practice a sport and how to practice playing an instrument. But for some reason, even after studying it in college, I wasn’t sure how to practice writing.
I set out to create the best writing practice I could. The Write Practice is the result.
I found that the best writing practice has three aspects:
Deliberate. Writing whatever you feel like may be cathartic, but it’s not an effective way to become a better writer. You’ll get better faster by instead practicing a specific technique or aspect of the writing process each time you sit down to write.
This is why we have a new lesson about the writing process each day on The Write Practice, followed by a practice prompt at the end so you can put what you learned to use immediately.
Timed. It’s no secret writers struggle with focus. There are just too many interesting distractions—Facebook, email, Kim Kardashian’s Instagram feed (just kidding about that last one, sort of)—and writing is just too hard sometimes.
Setting a timer, even for just fifteen minutes, is an easy and effective way to stay focused on what’s important.
This is why in our writing practice prompt at the end of each post we have a time limit, usually with a link to an online egg timer, so you can focus on deliberate practice without getting distracted.
Feedback. Getting feedback is one of the requirements to deliberately practice writing or any other craft. Feedback can look like listening to the reactions of your readers or asking for constructive criticism from editors and other writers.
Good writing isn’t done in a vacuum. Your readers will teach you to become a better writer.
This is why we ask you to post your writing practice in the comments section after each lesson, so that you can get feedback from other writers in The Write Practice community. It’s also why we set up the Becoming Writer community, to provide critique groups for writers to get feedback on their finished writing pieces.
Our 100+ Best Writing Practice Exercises and Lessons
Now that you know how we practice writing at The Write Practice, here are our best writing practice exercises and lessons:
All-Time, Top 10 Writing Lessons and Exercises
These ten posts are our most viewed articles to boost your writing practice:
1. How To Use Neither, Nor, Or, and Nor Correctly. Even good writers struggle figuring out when to use neither/nor and either/or. In this, the most popular post on The Write Practice, our copy-queen Liz Bureman settles the confusion once and for all. Click to continue to the writing exercise
2. Do You Use Quotation Marks or Italics for Song and Album Titles? The wrong punctuation can make any writer look silly. If you’ve ever been confused about whether to use quotes or italics for song titles and album titles, this post will clear things up. Click to continue to the writing exercise
3. Ten Secrets To Write Better Stories. How does Pixar manage to create such great stories, year after year? And how do you write a good story? In this post, I distill everything I’ve learned about how to write a good story into ten tips. Click to continue to the writing exercise
4. How To Use an Ellipsis… Correctly. Judging by my Facebook feed, most people are using ellipses incorrectly, or at least overusing them. Here’s how to use those trio of periods correctly in your writing. Click to continue to the writing exercise
5. 35 Questions To Ask Your Characters From Marcel Proust. To get to know my characters better, I use a list of questions known as the Proust Questionnaire, made famous by French author, Marcel Proust. Click to continue to the writing exercise
6. How a Scene List Can Change Your Novel-Writing Life. Creating a scene list changed my novel-writing life, and doing the same will change yours too. Includes examples of the scene lists from famous authors. Click to continue to the writing exercise
7. Why You Need to be Using the Oxford Comma. Most people I’ve met have no idea what the Oxford comma is, but it’s probably something that you have used frequently in your writing. Click to continue to the writing exercise
8. How to Conduct an Interview Like a Journalist. The interview is the most-used tool in a journalist’s bag. But that doesn’t mean novelists, bloggers, and even students can’t and don’t interview people. Here’s how to conduct a great interview. Click to continue to the writing exercise
9. Why You Should Try Writing in Second Person. You’ve probably used first person and third person point-of-view already. But what about second person? This post explains three reasons why you should try writing from this point-of-view. Click to continue to the writing exercise
10. The Secret to Show, Don’t Tell. You’ve heard the classic writing rule, “Show. Don’t Tell.” Every writing blog ever has talked about it, and for good reason. Showing, for some reason, is really difficult. Click to continue to the writing exercise
12 Exercises and Lessons To Become a Better Writer
How do you become a better writer? These posts share our best advice:
- Want to Be a Better Writer? Cut These 7 Words
- What I Mean When I Say I Am A Writer
- How to Become a Writer: 3 Simple Steps
- 72% of Writers Struggle With THIS
- 7 Lies About Becoming a Writer That You Probably Believe
- 10 Questions to Find Your Unique Writing Voice
- The Best Writing Book I’ve Ever Read
- The Best Way to Become a Better Writer
- The Creative Writer’s Toolkit: 6 Tools You Can’t Write Without
- Should You Write More or Write Better: Quantity vs Quality
- How to Become a Better Writer in One, Simple Step
- 11 Writing Tips That Will Change Your Life
6 Lessons and Exercises from Great Writers
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” —Isaac Newton
If you want to be a writer, learn from the great writers who have gone before you:
- 23 Essential Quotes from Ernest Hemingway About Writing
- 29 Quotes that Explain How to Become a Better Writer
- 10 Lessons Dr. Seuss Can Teach Writers
- 10 Writing Tips from Ursula Le Guin
- Once Upon a Time: Pixar Prompt
- All the Pretty Words: Writing In the Style of Cormac McCarthy
12 Genre and Format Specific Writing Lessons and Exercises
Here are our best writing lessons for specific types of writing, including essays, screenplays, memoir, short stories, children’s books, and humor writing:
- Writing an Essay? Here Are 10 Effective Tips
- How To Write a Screenplay: The 5 Step Process
- 3 Rules to Write World-Changing Memoir
- How to Write a Short Story from Start to Finish
- How to Write a Memoir Short Story
- What Makes a Good Children’s Book?
- Four Commandments to Writing Funny
- How to Write a Story a Week: A Day-by-Day Guide
- 4 Reasons to Write Short Stories
- 5 Key Elements for Successful Short Stories
- 4 Tips to Write a Novel That Will Be Adapted Into a Movie
- Humor Writing for People Who Aren’t Funny
14 Characterization Lessons and Exercises
Good characters are the foundation of good fiction. Here are our best lessons to create better characters:
- Harry Potter and the Three Types of Heroes
- Writing Villains: 9 Evil Examples of the Villain Archetype
- How NOT to Introduce a New Character
- The Strongest Form of Characterization
- The Most Important Character Archetype
- How Do You Build A Strong Character In Your Writing?
- 5 Types of Anti-Heroes
- How to Explore Your Characters’ Motivations
- 8 Tips for Naming Characters
- The Protagonist: How to Center Your Story
- Heroes vs. Anti-Heroes: Which Is Right For Your Story?
- The Weakest Form of Characterization
- How to Write With an Accent
- How To Create a Character Sketch Using Scrivener
15 Grammar Lessons and Exercises
I talk to so many writers, some of whom are published authors, who struggle with grammar. Here are our best writing lessons on grammar:
- Is It Okay To End A Sentence With A Preposition?
- Contractions List: When To Use and When To Avoid
- Good vs. Well
- Connotation vs. Denotation
- Per Se vs. Per Say
- When You SHOULD Use Passive Voice
- When Do You Use “Quotation Marks”
- Polysyndeton and Asyndeton: Definition and Examples
- The Case Against Twilight
- Affect Versus Effect
- Stop Saying “Literally”
- What Is a Comma Splice? And Why Do Editors Hate Them?
- Intra vs. Inter: Why No One Plays Intermural Sports
- Alright and Alot: Words That Are Not Words
- The Poor, Misunderstood Semicolon
4 Journalism Lessons and Exercises
Want to be a journalist? Or even use techniques from journalism to improve your novel, essay, or screenplay? Here are our best writing lessons on journalism:
- Six Ways to Ask Better Questions In Interviews
- How Should You Interview Someone? Over Email? In Person?
- What If They Don’t Want to Talk to You?
- Eleven Habits of a Highly Effective Interviewers
16 Plot and Story Lessons and Exercises
Want to write a good story? Our top plot and story lessons will help:
- The Quest
- 7 Keys To Write the Perfect First Line of a Novel
- The Secret to Creating Conflict
- 4 Tips to Avoid Having Your Short Story Rejected by a Literary Magazine
- 7 Steps to Creating Suspense
- 5 Elements of Storytelling
- 3 Important Rules for Writing Endings
- A Writer’s Cheatsheet to Plot and Structure
- Overcoming the Monster
- How to Satisfy Your Reader With a Great Ending
- Pow! Boom! Ka-Pow! 5 Tips to Write Fight Scenes
- The Dramatic Question and Suspense in Fiction
- How to Write a Memorable Beginning and Ending
- How to Write the Perfect First Page
6 Lessons and Exercises to Beat Writer’s Block
Writer’s block is real, and it can completely derail your writing. Here are six lessons to get writing again:
- How To Write Whether You Feel Like it Or Not
- This Fun Creative Writing Exercise Will Change Your Life
- When You Should Be Writing But Can’t…
- What to do When Your Word Count is Too Low
- 7 Tricks to Write More with Less Willpower
- When You Don’t Know What to Write, Write About Your Insecurities
7 Literary Technique Lessons and Exercises
These writing and storytelling techniques will teach you a few tricks of the trade you may not have discovered before:
- 3 Tips to “Show, Don’t Tell” Emotions and Moods
- 3 Reasons to Write Stream of Consciousness Narrative
- 16 Observations About Real Dialogue
- Intertextuality As A Literary Device
- Why You Should Use Symbolism In Your Writing
- 6 Ways to Evoke Emotion in Poetry and Prose
- 3 Tips To Write Modern Allegorical Novels
- Symbol vs. Motif: What’s the Difference
3 Inspirational Writing Lessons and Exercises
Need some inspiration? Here are three of our most inspiring posts:
- Why We Write: Four Reasons
- You Must Remember Every Scar
- 17 Reasons to Write Something NOW
3 Publishing Blogging Lessons and Exercises
If you want to get published, these three lessons will help:
- The Secret to Writing On Your Blog Every Day
- How to Publish Your Book and Sell Your First 1,000 Copies
- How to Get Published in Literary Magazines
11 Writing Prompts
Need inspiration or just a kick in the pants to write. Try one of our top writing prompts:
- Grandfathers [writing prompt]
- Out of Place [writing prompt]
- Sleepless [writing prompt]
- Longing [writing prompt]
- Write About Yourself [writing prompt]
- 3 Reasons You Should Write Ghost Stories
- Road Trip [writing prompt]
- Morning [writing prompt]
- The Beach [writing prompt]
- Fall [writing prompt]
- How to Use Six-Word Stories As Writing Prompts
Is It Time To Begin Your Writing Practice?
It’s clear that if you want to become a writer, you need to practice writing. We’ve created a proven process to practice your writing at The Write Practice, but even if you don’t join our community, I hope you’ll start practicing in some way today.
Personally, I waited far too long to start practicing and it set my writing back years.
Today is the best day for you to practice writing for the first time. Let’s do it together.
How about you? Do you think practicing writing is important? Let me know in the comments section.
Choose one of the writing practice posts above. Then, read the lesson and participate in the writing exercise, posting your work in the comments section of that post. And if you post, please give feedback to your fellow writers who also posted their practices.
Have fun and happy practicing!