A freewriting technique that will improve mindset, money and productivity
Updated: 18 hours ago
This writing exercise will help you beat overwhelm, get more clients, and speed up your content creation process!
I want to share with you a practice that I’ve been using myself for several years. It’s called freewriting, and it’s helped me grow my business and has also significantly improved my mental health.
But first, I want to tell you a story that will help you understand why this technique is so powerful.
When I was a child, I loved creative writing. I spent hours writing poetry and really believed I was good at it. Even at the young age of ten or eleven, I believed I could write. Sadly, I lost my poem collection, but I remember being very proud of them.
However, as I grew older, my confidence really dipped. I struggled with low self-esteem as a teenager, and as a young adult I became a bit of a rebel. My entire teenage and early adulthood years consisted of either science or raving! An odd combination, but “work hard, play hard” was my mantra.
When I was about 25, I randomly picked up the book ‘Stop Thinking, Start Living’, that was my first taste of the self-development world. I remember reading this book on the metro on my way to work at Newcastle University, it was the first time I'd been made aware of how noisy the chatter was in my head.
At that time in my life, my “burning the candle at both ends” lifestyle had caught up with me and, looking back, I was pretty depressed.
You’ll be pleased to know the partying came to an abrupt end when I became a mother, but my confidence was still low when I started my first business in early 2015. I knew I was creative, but I’d forgotten how to BE creative, if that makes sense? Growing up in a very creative household meant I’ve always had a solid belief in my own creativity, but anxiety stifled my true ability and my confidence.
I’ve told this story many times but, for those of you who haven’t heard it, my whole world changed when I retrained as a copywriter. I quickly learned how to make money very easily — I still can’t believe how easily, to be honest.
But, after a few months, I found another problem: I wasn’t fast enough. I needed to find a way to increase my productivity (you get it, right? I wanted to make more money), so I started freewriting, basically journaling on steroids!
I don’t remember why or how it started; I just started and refined the process as I went.
This simple, enjoyable writing exercise has similar benefits to coaching, and has the power to transform your business if you use it consistently (I know, because I have been doing it consistently myself). It’s helped me in many ways, but mainly it’s unblocked my creativity and boosted my confidence.
Now, when I write, I feel just like I did as a child, writing poems that everyone loved.
I can’t remember when or how I first learnt the technique. I Googled “Freewriting” before writing this article to see if it was “a thing” and it is so I must have picked it up from somewhere, but mainly I’ve taught myself. I don’t know if anyone else is using how I do, maybe they are? Or maybe it’s just me? But anyway, here’s how my method works.
My freewriting method
Set an intention to spend 30 minutes writing without any judgement at all.
Resist the temptation to edit as you go.
Just write. Don’t stop.
Depending on the intention of your writing, you’ll need to handle things slightly differently.
It’s important to note that there’s no right or wrong way to do this.
Three example intentions to set:
1 ) When you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or worried
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or worried about something, set the intention to write down anything that comes into your mind. Set your timer for 15 minutes to get all of your worries out of your head. Really let rip on the page — absolutely no holding back for this one. No one is ever going to read what you write, so use this space to shout, say awful things, be really raw and honest. Don’t stop writing until the timer goes off.
It doesn’t matter if your writing makes sense. Just write.
Then, when the timer goes off, spend another 15 minutes rewriting your thoughts to be more positive. Again, absolutely no judgement on spelling, grammar or anything like that. It's very liberating knowing that no one will ever read your writing. You can be as creatively silly or annoyed as you want.
Sometimes, if you’re feeling really bad, it’s difficult to be positive. That’s absolutely fine, too. Just acknowledge that. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to do this; it’s about helping you feel better.
2) When you want to understand your customers on a deep level
Try the same exercise as above but, instead of setting the intention to help yourself get out of overwhelm, set the intention to build empathy for your customers.
“Why would I do that?” I hear you say. Well, empathy is fundamental to selling with integrity, so if you nail this, you’re going to sell A LOT of stuff to the people who need it most. Another win-win for you and your client.
This is how you do it.
Set an intention to write from your client’s perspective.
You’ve just started your day. How are you feeling? What’s going on in your life? What’s going wrong? What’s going right? How do you wish your life would be different?
By the end of this task, you’ll have a whole new perspective on your client and how you can write copy to help them.
3) Speed up your content writing
Have loads of content ideas but no time to write blog posts or long-form social media content? This one's for you.
The third way I use my freestyle exercise is for content writing (I’m actually using my freestyle method right now to write this article!).
I set the intention to write a post about freewriting, but this time I set my stopwatch. I wanted to keep my writing under 60 minutes, but wasn’t sure how long it would take to get everything out of my head.
Using freewriting for content writing is harder, because you know you’re writing for an audience, so it’s easy to be tempted to edit while you write. Try as much as possible not to do this. This is the only real rule for freewriting. No editing as you write.
Using this exercise for content writing (especially those who are also recovering perfectionists) is very beneficial. Rather than agonising over every word, instead, you set an intention (or possibly a timer, depending on your preference) and just write whatever comes to mind.
So far, I’ve been writing this article for 33 minutes and I have a page full of words. No writer's block. No judgement. You will need to go back and do a big edit; but this is pretty decent for just over 30 minutes’ work.
Other benefits include your head feeling lighter because you’ve got your thoughts down on paper with no judgement, and a sense of clarity around the topic.
The key is writing with no judgement.
If you take one thing away from this article, it’s to write with no judgement; let your creativity flow and lose that perfectionism.
I found three very different uses for my freestyle writing exercise, all with huge benefits to me and my business.
Firstly, when you feel overwhelmed. Bash everything in your head out onto paper, then rewrite your story. This is especially good if you wake up early in a bad mood with a head full of worries. You can literally rewrite your story and have a far better day — I know this is true because it forms part of my regular daily routine and helps me enormously.
Secondly, use this exercise to help you connect with your audience and sell more. Get in the zone of feeling empathy for your client, so you can write about their struggles and show them you have the solution to their problems.
Thirdly, use the exercise while writing content for your business. I’ve been writing now for 40 minutes now without stopping and I feel great! Content writing is no longer a chore but a pleasure! I’ve reframed it as a mental health exercise!
Of course, the first draft was absolutely littered with typos and poor sentence structure. But I resisted the temptation to edit while I write. This is harder to do with content writing, because you know this writing will ultimately be published, but it’s a skill worth practising.
Creativity is stifled when we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect.
Human beings aren’t perfect.
Write without judgement. Let it flow. Resist the urge to edit while you’re writing.
And, if you were wondering, it’s taken about 60 minutes to edit this document, not bad for 1,440 words. I’ll also be passing it to my proofreader (another tip to dramatically increase productivity).
If you’ve enjoyed this article, come and join my free Facebook group Brilliant Boundaries & Confident Communication, perfect for web designers and similar online service-based business owners.