Back to Basics: Freewriting

Welcome to our Back to Basics series! In this series we explore some of the foundational methods, practices and terminology for teaching reading and writing. This series is for those new to the field of literacy, beginning tutors or those who would just like a refresher. This week we discuss the exercise of freewriting.

Deciding what to write about is one of the first writing challenges to overcome. Getting those ideas down on paper is the next. Freewriting is an excellent writing practice activity to get the feel for writing. Freewriting means writing as much as possible, without editing, for a set amount of time. Do not worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar. This activity can be used as a writing warm-up, but it also helps to easily get ideas down on paper.

“Learners benefit from practicing writing in a penalty-free environment – they are more likely to take risks and thus learn new things.” – Adult Literacy Program: Virtual Tutor Training

Tips for Freewriting

  • Forget the rules. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar or even creating proper sentences. Just write!
  • Use a prompt. Prompts help you to get started or to help you continue with your writing if you run out of ideas. For example, “Yesterday I …”  or “I wish …” are phrases that will help the ideas flow more easily.
  • Set a time limit. To begin with, five to seven minutes is a good time limit. Start writing and keep going until the time is up.
  • Take it or leave it. As a tutor, you can leave the writing practice right there and move on. Or, you may read it over and discuss the ideas that surfaced, focusing on clarity and meaning. These ideas could be used for later writing exercises.

Freewriting is a great activity to create a writing habit in a non-judgmental environment. It can become a regular exercise to practice writing and keep the creativity flowing. It is also a wonderful activity to begin with before moving on to the next stages of the writing process with your learner. To learn more about freewriting, check out the resources below.


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