Thursday, August 02, 2007

Footloose and Fancy Free

When you think of the old cliche "footloose and fancy free," what thoughts come to your mind? I think of childhood, a time in life that is carefree and not overburdened with responsibility, or matured from the experience of simply living life. Even being young and in college seems to fit well into that category, doesn't it? When, for many, it meant your biggest concern was whether or not you still had a can of spaghetti o's left in the cupboard for your dinner, and how you were going to cram a semester's worth of notes into your brain for the the final coming up in two days. I'm now almost thirty two years old and I really think there's something to be said for that old cliche.

I've lived life. It hasn't been filled with tragedy, nor has it been terrible. I am thankful, in fact, for every experience I've been through-good or bad. That's why I enjoy a style of writing that I like to think of as "footloose and fancy free." Many of you know of it as free writing.

The thing that's so neat about free writing is that there are absolutely no hard and fast rules. This is a time that you do not pay attention to spelling, grammar, or even punctuation. That would detract from the exercise. The idea is to get down as much on paper as you possibly can, and if you are monkeying around with details, it distracts you from your thoughts, and it's your very thoughts that make this such a useful exercise.

Sit down down with your keyboard or pen and paper and simply begin to write. It's an opportunity for you to sit down and write about anything and everything that happens to pop into your head. If it makes sense, that's great! If it doesn't, that's great too, but it's a excellent activity to begin your daily writing habits with, or if you are suffering from a bout of writer's block.

This is also a very useful exercise if you are writing on something specific. If you free write everything you can possibly think about pertaining to that topic you will find that it will help you narrow down what your thoughts and opinions are on that subject and may even help you to put a better focus on your paper.

Of course, you do not have to write about a specific topic. Remember, there are no rules. If you haven't any ideas, just write whatever is popping into your head. We are never void of thoughts. Something will come to you, I guarantee it!

Try it! You may be amazed of how many ideas may come to mind for your next big article when you are footloose and fancy free writing!


Sylvia C. said...


I love free writing, too.

I tried it out in a class I taught of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders and some of them really liked it (only one had ever heard of it!).

Hope things are going well for you!

Sylvia C.

Mihaela Lica said...

I do this a lot, more recently when I travel by train from Schweich to Luxembourg... to work.

It sets my soul free and it is really amazing that the quality of the phrase, the melody, its natural flow really come to light. They shine if you know what I mean.

Sometimes even commenting in blogs is natural writing.

In my case, English will never flow naturally. I'll always have to think...

But Romanian... that's a different story.

Great to see that even professional writers recommend such an exercise.

Betsy Henning said...

I've got to get back to Free Writing like we did when we were going through "The Artist's Way". I'll get back to it as soon as someone holds my foot to the fire!



Lillie Ammann said...

I hope you're doing well and are back to blogging soon.
I've just posted a list of my favorite writing blogs, and you're on it.

Yvonne Russell said...

Hi Lisa
Julie Cameron, author of The Artist's Way calls this Morning Pages.

Footloose & Fancy Free is a much more evocative description. It suits free writing perfectly!

I was quite surprised at the outcome when I tried it. Thanks for the reminder to revisit that technique.

All the best