Going Deep – F-R-E-E Writing

Feb 2, 2024 | Writing

Old Remington typewriter with blank piece of paper in it, waiting for your eager fingers to start typing.

F-R-E-E Writing stands for Fast, Raw, Exact-but-Easy writing. It’s a stream-of consciousness writing exercise touted by Orna Ross (Irish author and poet, and founder of the Alliance for Independent Authors) as a great tool to plunge into the depths of your soul so that what comes out on the paper is as true to yourself as possible.

This exercise can be used in any number of ways, including as a journaling method, but also to get to the bottom of what drives you in your art. You think of a question–Why do I write? What kind of stories am I drawn to, and why? What theme really speaks to me, and why? What values do I want to embody in my business?–and you let yourself loose on the page. This exercise is also a great way to get you past your writer’s block, in which case the questions you try to answer would be more What’s my character most afraid of? Why did my character act this way? What theme am I exploring here, and why? Why does this conflict matter?

By exploring yourself, your stories, your characters and scenes in this manner, you can uncover what you’re trying to do or say, and use that to propel you onward.

How to go about this exercise:

  1. Set a timer (5-10 minutes)
  2. Write as FAST as you can, no stopping, no re-reading what you’ve set down before, no judging. It doesn’t matter how your sentences are formed, if there are mistakes. You just keep going. No need to stress out about it, as no one else but you will read whatever pours out of your pen. This is just you having a deep and honest conversation with yourself!
  3. Let yourself be as RAW as possible. Dive into your subconscious mind, let it express itself fully, completely unfiltered. No judgment. No censoring. No repressed emotions. You’re getting your real truth down, baring your guts.
  4. You write things as EXACTLY but as EASILY as you can. When you write descriptions, be as precise as you can be, don’t let yourself be vague. You’re not talking about a person walking down your street, but about the star quarterback next door who likes to listen to Chopin on repeat so loud you know his Etudes by heart. You explore all of your senses on paper, make everything as vivid as possible. Draw on your own experiences. But you use terms that come to you easily. No need for flowery language, no need to reach for a dictionary or a thesaurus. Nothing can stop your flow, after all!

Try this exercise. See what you come up with. You might be surprised by what you uncover!


Freewriting Tutorial by Orna Ross