Freewriting: A Rationale

Freewriting: a rationale

Many  of you are comfortable with freewriting. If you’ve been with Brave Writer any length of time, you know that freewriting is a core practice when becoming a fluent writer. At a certain point in time, though, many moms worry that that is “all” their kids are doing. They can handle copywork, dictation, and freewriting (these practices are as concrete as times tables work sheets!), but getting beyond freewriting feels like a real challenge. But I want to underscore again, the value of freewriting and to help you see that you aren’t just killing time until your kids do “real” writing. Freewriting is real and valuable and the foundation of all future writing.

Besides being the easiest way to get locked up words unlocked, freewriting is also the best way to help your kids stay fluent with their handwriting skills. In this age of computer use (where sometimes I go days without holding a pencil in my hand), it becomes important to give your children the chance to keep their handwriting legible while speedy. They will handwrite more than you or I do as they move through their academic careers.

Today in universities, more and more professors use the “in-class timed essay” as a way to gauge student progress in the material. With the rise of Internet fraud and plagiarism, professors have one sure way to guarantee that they are getting student work (not a purchased or stolen product). They can ask their students to write in-class essays. Those essays are invariably in hand-writing. Not only that, they are written to a “time limit” (sounds like writing to a timer, right?) and they are written without the aid of resources to reference as they cough up their ideas onto the page.

Freewriting, early and regularly, puts your children
at a real advantage in the academic world.

Your kids will grow comfortable expressing themselves on paper with pen in hand, they become aware of how quickly they need to write to fill a page in a number of minutes, they aren’t intimidated by the blank page and they know they can gather their thoughts and spew them out on command as they grow adept at writing.

Additionally, even for those papers that occur outside of the classroom, where research, computers and time offer students the possibility of revision, freewriting still serves a powerful purpose. It allows kids to write their thoughts and ideas in short, powerful bursts. They can tackle one aspect of a topic and really hone in on it in freewriting before they start crafting an essay. This is especially important in the writing they will do later in life. Too often kids fall into the trap of lifeless, point-by-point writing where they lull their professors and teachers to sleep with the predictable pattern of points and supports, no freshness, no originality. Freewriting disturbs this trend. It helps kids get back in touch with the quirky, insightful person inside and dislodges the words that would be overlooked in the pedantic plodding methodology of most “papers-for-school” writing that other students write.

Finally, freewriting can be a lively and poignant opportunity to get to know your child’s passions and viewpoints.

Freewriting has often served as a way for me to know my kids:
what they’re thinking, how they are processing something,
why they are worried or exuberant.

Even when it seems that the academic purpose is lost in the freewriting, the person that is your child never is. See freewriting as a multi-faceted chance to enhance your child’s comfort with handwriting, ability to write under pressure, as preparation for a life of insightful writing and the chance to express an interior life on paper.

It does all that, and more! Freewriting is the core of a healthy writing life.

Freewriting Prompts

6 Responses to “Freewriting: A Rationale”

  1. Susan says:

    Thank you for this reminder, Julie. My youngest, 12, definitely falls into that “hates” freewriting category… so I am looking forward to that entry. This week we are going to try going to a coffee shop to do our freewriting. Hopefully a cup of hot chocolate will help his attitude.

  2. Gaynor says:

    Thanks for this encouragement. I’ve had one of those weeks worrying that I’m not doing enough academic stuff with my children and it’s so helpful to be reminded of the real value of what I do do!

  3. SusanneB says:

    Yes, my boys all “hate” freewriting, too. I can’t wait for ideas to help them enjoy it. I’d settle for their “tolerating” freewriting, but I know you won’t…. 🙂

  4. Galen Roll says:

    We all like free-writing in my family—it’s so…..FREE! You are right: it is continuing on to revise, edit and create a finished piece that there is less impetous for in our homeschooling. Therefore, we often do not go to the next steps. I guess that is where I could focus more thought….finding more avenues for sharing…still, we share and delight among ourselves and enjoy our times writing at the table together.
    I do hear the writing voices of my kids developing…and I enjoy the focused time to write as well. I have started talking about revising/further developing my free-writes and what I might do with them. I hope to model these next steps, and work all of us alongside each other. I really look forward to your posting about revision! Thanks for offering such a wonderful writing support. Galen

  5. Anne says:

    I am posting here in response to the “Brave Revising” email, you sent out.

    I am wondering about reluctant revisers. My 12 year old daughter will free write beautifully and willingly , but resists my input on revising. I feel like I am judging her work when I do offer suggestions.

    I am considering taking the revising course, but would love to hear what you have to say about gently and effectively revising.

  6. Julie Bogart says:

    Anne, I used your question as the springboard for today’s blog entry!