What Do You Mean By “Free Writing”?
Freewriting is the technique I’d describe with the phrase, “going with the flow.” As a writer, you wind yourself up, let yourself go, and see where the adventure takes you. You’re hardly more omniscient than your characters, and what results that do come about are a surprise. I’ve also heard this referred to as “vomit writing” from colorful wordsmiths because the goal is to focus on creative output without thought to quality or direction. Any cognitive decision-making or editing happens later.
Outlining Is the Opposite
Some choose instead to create an outline rather than winging it. By doing this, you’re an architect; your characters are puppets. You have timelines, plotlines, categorized backstories, and detailed maps with labels and a big red X at the end. You know all of the details of your novel before your first draft is done, even down to your cliffhanger sentence at the end of Chapter 8.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Each Method?
With outlining, you could run the risk of spending too much on time world-building and detail-mongering that you:
- Get distracted from your goal, which is—simply put—writing!
- Lose the magical feeling you had when the project was new
- Make your characters and plot devices seem stiff and uncompelling
Free writing is so much more organic, yet it nonetheless comes with its own challenges. Unlike the outlining approach, you’ll find yourself driving down unfamiliar territory without a road map. Beware of:
- Plot holes from enthusiastically following your whims
- Losing sight of the inciting action or problem
- Writer’s block (if you believe in it, that is)
- Forgetting tangents and trains of thought as the project goes on
Consider the Hybrid Method
There is another alternative, something I like to call the hybrid method because it merges the two techniques in order to mitigate their respective weaknesses and capitalize on their strengths. With this approach, the writer entertains a looser outline or even just an ideation chart and attempts to fill in the gaps with more inventive, organic material. Large plotlines get fleshed out, leaving the details to be discovered.
Personally, this is my preferred method, but every writer is unique. Only you will know what works for you and what you create.
“How Do I Find Out Which Method Works?”
Why hesitate by asking this question? Just write! Go out and do it! Trial and error will reveal the secrets to your creative process, and no one becomes a writer without writing.
Learn more about the author by visiting amandaedens.com