Ten Mindless Minutes

Ten Mindless Minutes

A Short Example of Freewriting


Kenneth Burchfiel


[The following was churned out between 11:35 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. one Wednesday evening. It is a freewritten piece, meaning that I typed more or less continuously for the duration of the exercise without pausing and thinking about what to say. Thus—given that I wrote without stopping to think or correct an error—what you’ll see is as rudimentary as drafts get. I don’t offer this as a piece of polished writing, but as a raw look into the fun of the freewriting process.]


There is something inherently dangerous about writing a freewritten piece. I do not even allom myself to go back and use the bacspacke key, as you will soon come to realize; indeed, the best I – or, to put it more frankly, I don’t even stop to let myself k think. Tat is the beuty of the freewrite. Your mind has no time to interfere with the thoughts going from your soul to th page; you simply go on and write down what you can, whenever you can, about whatever comes to your mind—oru out of it.

I allow myself no pauses when freewriting, as you’ll also come to realize. Yes, this makes for rather shoddy writing, but nobody expets you to crank out a bestseller when you’re not even allowing to delete any words. Sentencese come out fragmented. Thoughts spurt out of your mind in pieces. But engrained within those rocky causes and sentences are some truly wonderful metaphors and ideas and… just good writing, really. And it can take a freewritten piece to unlock that.

I have given myself eight more minutes of writing. IT helps, of course, to be able to touch type when writing these pieces; I had bought a keyboard that would let me do the job a little faster, so here I am, typing as fast as I can. I have no idea what my next sentence wil be, any more than a homeless person known swhat food they will eat the next day. But that is the joi of it. There is danger to it—oh, you have to learn to laugh off the sentences that come in and make absolutely no sence—but there is job to it as well. If you know what I mean. Perhaps it’s time to begin another paragrp.h

FReewriting, in case you have not heard of the process, as I said early, is a matter of writing without allowing oneself any time to think—or take their hands off thke keyboard, or take their hands off the pencil, or the pencil off the—you see where I am going, and likewise, that I am not stopping to edit. (That makes for some horrible writing – oh, I’m sorry! I accidentally hit the backspace key there. I credit it to a reflex action ;blame my inner critic. Do not worry. I will make many more orrors to make up for that.) Where was I? Ah, yes; the freewriting process. You see, whet whole idea is that you are here writing without allowing yourself so much as even to think about what your next word myight be, in hopes that you can come oup with something that your mind would usually not see. The problem with trying to explain this is that I am (dang! Backspace again!) is that I am freewriting this as I speak, meaning it can take hundreds of words to finish one thought—because of all the additions you want to make, and such. But I will do my deb.st. The great thing bout freewriting is that it shuts up your innecr critic. When you are not allowed to use the backspack key, there’s little chance that you will be able to stop the flowof of writing at all. In that sense, you relax. You admit that what you are writing isn’t publication worthy—or showing it to others worthy, which is why it atkes some courage to take something like this and put it up.

But what freewriting does do is twofold. Firs, as I mentioned perhaps five times ago but have no better things obabout which to write, it relaxes your mind. You do not worry about whether you are writing something good or not; you realize the bulk of it is not going to see the light of the prininter, or the light of the computer screen. And so you can trust yourself. And so you can experiement. IT is like making a sand castle at the co ocean; perhaps what you are making is not an architectural wonder, but the sand will come by anyway and put it to rest.

So where was I, then? Ah, yes: the matter of the pros of freewriting. The second thing follows once you find yourself in that relaxed state. I have always found that creativity in a person is at at I its best whan that person as no tohr thought sor streses or fears or worries on his or her mind; when that person is ready, willing and able to shut up their critical, repulsed side and just write. The When that happens; when paragraphs are not interrupted because an a or an e is missing, or when someone simyly doesn’t know what teyh’re writing about, the most beautiful sentences can go. (Sorry. One more backspace key hit. I a am trying to control my reflexes.) IT is as if the weight of all the bad sentences surrounding on e particular cl clause compresse that cause to the point where it really turns into something beautiful; a diamond amidst the ashes, or the coal, or the carbon deposits—I am no diamond farmer. I only mine good writing, and tonight, it is at a scarcity.

So that is the beneficial part of freewriting. But it is a scary and dangerous process, is it not? Absolutely! You do )Sorry! ONE MORE BPSPACK K—ANOTHER BACKSPACE KEY! MY INNER CRITIC HAS BEGUN TO WON OVER MY FREE SIDE! I WILL —- NEVER MIND THAT. I WILL TURN OFF CAPS LOCK NOW. ) The point to all this is not to have good writing. IT is to take some thought from your mind and let it get onto the page unassisted, unhindered by the inner critic.

What a else can I say in this final minute? Give it I at try. Don’t be so concerned or worried if what you happen to be writing doesn’t seem that good. The whole point is that you’rll be relaxed and confident enough that once your inhibitions start to wear off, the things you put down oth the page might be good—occasionally at the least. Itas warth a shot. YPErhaps there wil be mechanics or seplling errors. That’as the point: to not wryr about mechanics, for once. ONec you have that in place, it’s simply time to get down and writ.

My ten minutes, thankfully, ar up. I hope you enjoyed this little freewrite. AT any rate, give it a try yourself.


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