Introduction and Rationale
Peter Elbow is probably the leading proponent of freewriting. In his book Writing With Power (both editions), Elbow suggests the use of this techniques for a variety of writing products. While I do not use his methods explicitly, I do use it as a way to give students confidence in and stamina for their writing. I have found that the technique gives students confidence that they will be able to produce pages of material. After freewriting for a few weeks, they no long complain (as much) about the number of pages required for any individual writing assignment. It also helps cut back on the fatigue in their hands as writing muscles develop.
Focused freewrites are a great way to give students the freedom to think about and write about discussion topics for specific classes. I use it as a substitute for brainstorming prior to class discussions. The insistence that they write without stopping frees students, permitting them to record ideas without the self-censoring that comes when they have time to consider what they are going to write down. With focused freewriting, I am able to call on all students and ask them to share their ideas; the technique helps with students who state that they have no ideas, nothing to share in discussion, by giving them material on paper to offer. The requirement that they write without stopping about the topic allows them to claim that their ideas are not “very good” by giving them an automatic way to claim that, had they had more time, their ideas would have been better.
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