Freewriting for the Academic Writer


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This presentation formed session one of the student conference entitled 'Academic Writing Made Easier' which was held at London Metropolitan University on March 16 2009.

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  • Freewriting for the Academic Writer

    1. 1. Freewriting for the Academic Writer Lynn Reynolds, Nora Ausfeld, Paul McNaught, Anna Molla The Writing Centre, London Metropolitan University
    2. 2. What is Freewriting? <ul><li>  </li></ul>
    3. 3. The 'Rules'! <ul><ul><li>It's completely private </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set the timer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Start writing and write - without stopping - until your time is up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Whatever passes through your mind goes down on paper </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If your mind is a blank, write &quot;My mind is a blank&quot;! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don't make corrections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t think, just write </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>Freewriting is all about loosening and limbering the thought process, not about a product or a performance.                                                                        Robinson, L. (1967).  Guided writing and free writing .
    4. 4. How does freewriting feel? <ul><li>  </li></ul>
    5. 5. How can freewriting benefit the academic/technical writer? <ul><ul><li>Motivation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preparation: directs your consciousness towards your task and raises your awareness of research opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research tool: helps you work out what you know and what you don't, plus helps form the basis for more structured research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get in touch with your inner critic (when you need to) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Go deeper into your subject </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Help transform assignments into a learning opportunity rather than just another assessment hurdle </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. &quot;The easiest thing to do on earth is not write.&quot;
    7. 7. Too much motivation: Calming anxiety
    8. 8. Getting ahead of your inner critic
    9. 9. Morning pages
    10. 10. Freewriting <ul><li>To get in touch with your opinions </li></ul>
    11. 13. Freewriting <ul><li>To find out what you know </li></ul><ul><li>And what you don’t </li></ul>
    12. 14. Ignorance
    13. 15. Knowledge
    14. 16. Let's get critical! <ul><li>To write, you need to use your 'opposing muscles'. </li></ul>
    15. 17. Creativity vs Criticism Peter Elbow, Writing with Power (1998) <ul><ul><li>If you separate the writing process into two stages, you can exploit these opposing muscles one at a time: first be loose and accepting as you do fast early writing: then be critically tough-minded as you revise what you have produced. What you’ll discover is that these two skills used alternately don’t undermine each other at all, they enhance each other. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creation vs Criticism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chaos vs Order </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Freedom vs Control </li></ul></ul>
    16. 19. Freewriting to get closer to your subject
    17. 20. It seems that writers block is a mysterious phenomenon . I've heard it said that it's fashionable to deny the existence of block, which I suppose is tantamount to saying that block is the result of a poor work ethic, a lack of ideas or just general absence of moral fibre. But thinking on, it has affected many excellent writers who had produced a lot of work and who had an excellent writing track record. I'm thinking that famous passage from New Grub Street, or...oh sod it, can't remember what else. When I think of block I always think of Janet frame, who, when she was released from her awful time in psychiatric hospital, was mentored by a writer who gave her a shed in the garden to write. She found that she couldn't write, when she'd been hitherto prolific. So she just did typing exercises for weeks , basically so that her hosts would hear her typing and she wouldn't be shamed by the fact that she actually wasn't writing anything! But, guess what, gradually words came out and her stories took shape. This seems to suggest a relationship between repression and oppression. There's something about oppression which liberates, and perhaps when it is absent repression takes its place – we oppress ourselves. This is reminding me of Isaiah berlin's two kinds of freedom , positive and negative. Positive freedom is the absence of oppression, but negative freedom is all about freeing us up to choose what is good for us and not merely what gratifies our worldly urges. So, I want to write the excellent work of scholarship I know is deep within me but I keep going to the pub instead. If my mates were to lock me in my bedroom – ha, like in I Capture the castle – with only a pen and some paper, then I would surely remain undistracted and my excellent thoughts would have no choice but to be expressed. If only. One other thought about block is that it might be sort of like garbage in garbage out – perhaps we are receivers first and creators second and can't hope to produce anything good or even anything at all unless we are nourishing ourselves with the work of other writers and thikers. Freewriting as a Basis for Further Research: 1
    18. 21. Freewriting as a Basis for Further Research: 2 <ul><li>&quot;It seems that writer's block is a mysterious phenomenon&quot; - this tells me I don't understand what writer's block really means. I should find out about how it has been conceptualised and possibly arrive at some kind of working definition. I should freewrite about it before I do any reading, though, and try to isolate the things which I think might work together to comprise it. I don't think it's monolithic or medical, so what is it all about? </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;So she just did typing exercises for weeks&quot; - which writers have written personal reflections about block and what have blocked writers done to overcome their affliction? Thinking back to the New Grub Street example, the character there seemed to write all the time. So: block is not only about a blank page. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Isaiah berlin's two kinds of freedom&quot; - I need to revise this and find out if it's relevant. I also want to find out something about the creative process of writers working under oppressive regimes. Brecht would be good, because he suffered under one and helped support another. Akhmatova might be good, because she was very much interfered with but continued to work, walking a fine line between being gagged and being completely stripped of meaning. Who else? Xinran or someone living, who might be willing to answer questions about the relationship between block and oppression. Basically, do oppressed writers suffer from block, or do the restrictions of totalitarianism inspire and liberate much more than they oppress. Is there anyone whose creativity was killed by this kind of regime? </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;like in I Capture the castle &quot; - maybe I could use this as a quotation or a point of linkage. I seem to remember that the father didn't write when locked in the room by his kids. Maybe experimental literature is a special case? Think BS Johnson. I need to get Capture the Castle and I need to get Like a Fiery Elephant and re-read them. </li></ul>
    19. 22. Freewriting to produce that all important first draft
    20. 23. Types of writers <ul><li>- Extraverts </li></ul><ul><li>- Sensing </li></ul><ul><li>- Thinking </li></ul><ul><li>- Judging </li></ul><ul><li>Personality test </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>- Introverts </li></ul><ul><li>- Intuitive </li></ul><ul><li>Feeling </li></ul><ul><li>Perceiving </li></ul><ul><li>Pdf describing types </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    21. 24. Finding your own path