Sometimes giving yourself space from your story can help you get past those blocks which stop you from seeing the big picture of your book. Free writing is a useful tool to get the creative juices flowing and encourages the muse to visit you. I know that this thought of leaving your story can be daunting and has negative connotations attached to it, but I will show you how taking a break to write something else can help you beat writers block and make your current book come together.
I know the feeling when you have been looking at the same story with the same characters and you start to feel -not bored with it- but needing a change of scenery in order to get your mind sorted. Too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad for creativity. You know when you are sitting at school or work and focusing on a task for so long that you miss the finer details? That is what I am talking about. During times like these, free writing can help you unleash your writing!
This time away from your novel should not be long, maybe a month maximum as it will give you perspective on where it is going because it will be sorting itself out in the recesses of your mind. How many times have you experienced an epiphany while you were standing in line at the bank or in the shower or studying for an exam? See, there is method to my madness!
What is Free Writing?
There are many definitions and it seems that everyone has their own idea. Many people, I feel, confuse it with flash fiction and give the free writing exercise the same rules. This is because both concepts stem from the same premise- to write whatever you want. The real difference is that Flash Fiction is limited in words and you have a time limit. However, free writing is something different, at least to me, and that is giving yourself the liberty to write wherever the inspiration takes you. For instance, you can write a collection of poems, a short story, a nonfiction or a play.
I would make it a mini project and give it a life span of about a month. That way, you have enough time to finish your short piece and it your old story is still in your mind. Any longer than that away from your main project will make it harder to go back, but ultimately that time is up to you and if you want to extend or decrease it depends upon the progress of your free writing project.
There are no real rules to free writing, but from my experience here is what I have learnt works best for me:
- Write in a different style i.e. poetry or short stories. I personally wouldn't start writing another book, because usually your previous story goes out the window and we don't want that to happen.
- Try out a different genre. I have spoken before about how attempting to write in a different genre can expand your horizons and give you ideas you never though of before.
- Give a non-fiction research project a go. Choose a topic that has interested you for a long time and which has ample information available. Creative nonfiction can really help your writing, particularly with historical fiction writers.
- Give yourself a short time frame, in order to practice making deadlines and to keep motivated to finish your other story. This could be a space of a day, a week and maximum one month.
- Do not work on your book during this time unless you get an epiphany and must write it down. That is the only reason you should write your book during your free writing break.
I have found free writing really beneficial in my writing because when I first started my book it had really big issues that I found to stressful to overcome. However, when I took a break to work on something else and came back to my current book, I found that I was now calmly looking at the situation and found the solutions to 99% of all my problems. The point of this post is not only to reassure you that just because your book is becoming harder to write, it doesn't necessarily mean you are bored of it and even if you are, you don't have to give up if you want to. Either way, there is no share to take a break and come back to it later- you are no less a writer. If you are feeling like this I suggest trying this technique and hopefully you will see that you will become calmer, more objective and gain more inspiration.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this and if you have tried it, or will try it, I want to see your free writing stories! If you send them to me I will gladly showcase them on the blog!
I hope your writing is going well!