Humanities › English What Is Freewriting? How Writing Without Rules Can Help You Overcome Writer's Block Share Flipboard Email Print Ginny Wiehardt English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated February 13, 2019 Here's how writing without rules can help us overcome writer's block. If the prospect of having to write makes you uneasy, consider how one student has learned to cope with the problem: When I hear the word "compose," I go berserk. How can I make something out of nothing? That's not to imply that I have nothing upstairs, just no special talent for organizing thoughts and putting them down on paper. So instead of "composing," I simply jot, jot, jot and scribble, scribble, scribble. Then I try to make sense of it all. This practice of jotting and scribbling is called freewriting—that is, writing without rules. If you find yourself searching for a writing topic, start by jotting down the first thoughts that come to mind, no matter how trivial or disconnected they may appear. If you already have at least a general idea of what you will be writing about, put down your first thoughts on that subject. How to Freewrite For five minutes, write non-stop: don't lift your fingers from the keyboard or your pen from the page. Just keep writing. Don't stop to ponder or make corrections or look up a word's meaning in the dictionary. Just keep writing. While you are freewriting, forget the rules of formal English. Because you are writing only for yourself at this point, you don't have to worry about sentence structures, spelling or punctuation, organization or clear connections. (All those things will come later.) If you find yourself stuck for something to say, just keep repeating the last word you have written, or write, "I'm stuck, I'm stuck" until a fresh thought emerges. After a few minutes, the results may not look pretty, but you will have started writing. Using Your Freewriting What should you do with your freewriting? Well, eventually you'll delete it or toss it away. But first, read it over carefully to see if you can find a keyword or phrase or maybe even a sentence or two that can be developed into a longer piece of writing. Freewriting may not always give you specific material for a future essay, but it will help you get into the right frame of mind for writing. Practicing Freewriting Most people need to practice freewriting several times before they're able to make it work for them effectively. So be patient. Try freewriting as a regular exercise, perhaps three or four times a week, until you find that you can write without rules comfortably and productively.